The 2017 holiday season will be remembered as the Year of the Online Purchase, judging by the numbers released for Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending. A record-breaking year for eCommerce was seen on both days, as well as on Thanksgiving day, and the figures offer some insight into how today's consumers browse and shop. Brands and retailers should take notice and react accordingly, or they risk diminishing returns.

According to data released by Adobe Digital Insights, American shoppers spent a record $5.03 billion online during Black Friday. Now, add $2.87 billion (up 18.3 percent from last year) on Thanksgiving Day and $6.59 billion (a 16.8 jump) on Cyber Monday to this number and it equates to the fact that consumers are buying plenty of gifts from the comfort of their home (or office). In all, shoppers are expected to spend $107.4 billion online this holiday season, which would be an approximate increase of 14% over 2016, according to Adobe.

These numbers continue the market trend and align with results from a recent Deloitte study that revealed respondents expected to spend 51 percent of their budget online versus 42 percent in-store. This is compared to a 50-50 split last year.

While none of this is particularly surprising, what is surprising are foot-traffic statistics. Preliminary estimates from ShopperTrak, a data analytics company that measures the number of shoppers at brick-and-mortar stores, indicated that in-store visits actually dipped less than one percent compared to Black Friday 2016.

What do all these metrics mean for retailers and brands?

Here are some takeaways to consider:

Omnichannel is ever-important  - Judging by these figures, consumers may be browsing and comparing in-store and making their final purchases online. This may be especially true for items such as clothing and makeup. For these reasons, retailers and brands - particularly those in fashion, and health and beauty - need to implement omnichannel strategies to create a consistent and seamless experience across all channels.

The importance of an omnichannel strategy was confirmed in a recent eCommerce study Dotcom Distribution implemented. Online shoppers who participated in the study stated that a positive omnichannel experience makes a lasting impression and creates a repeat customer.

Be Mobile-friendly - It's not simply that consumers are buying more online. They are making purchases from mobile devices now more than ever. In the first week of holiday shopping, smartphones and tablets accounted for a record 36.9 percent of all sales and 54.3 percent of all site visits. Retailers and brands need to ensure that consumers who visit their websites via a mobile device have an optimal viewing and interactive experience. Implementing a responsive design that makes it easy for a visitor to read and navigate a site is a necessary step that will greatly impact their experience and your results.

Select the Right Fulfillment Partner - As more transactions are conducted online, selecting the proper third-party logistics (3PL) partner becomes imperative. A 3PL should understand how to bring the in-store experience to the customer's home, as well as meet key performance indicators (KPIs) such as fast and accurate delivery, and fulfillment transparency. It's worth noting that a big part of ensuring a successful 3PL partnership is making sure the services they provide fit the specific needs of your brand.  

A more complete picture of consumers' buying patterns will come in early 2018, when Q4 earnings reports are released. It will be interesting to see how the data aligns with consumer behavior. For retailers and brands, however, it's never too early to ensure the practices noted above are being successfully implemented right now.

To learn more about how to choose the right fulfillment partner, check out our FREE infographic here. 

Published on: Dec 21, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.