Black Friday/Cyber Monday hit about two weeks ago - and all I've heard since is doom and gloom.
The "retail apocalypse" is here, and every "expert" out there is telling investors to "short" brick-and-mortar retailers... Wait, no, they should "buy" retailers on the dip.
Then there are those who try to explain that this isn't really an apocalypse and that this specific retailer is going to survive (but this one or that one isn't).
Over at Jim Cramer's TheStreet, I saw one writer recommend an ETF - EMTY, as in "empty" stores - whose share price rises whenever a brick-and-mortar retail stock index falls.
All this is ridiculous - and way more complicated than necessary.
But check out these numbers...
Adobe Analytics tracked $5.03 billion in online sales on Black Friday - and an even more robust $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday. And the analysts there think the stage is now set for e-commerce sales to surpass $100 billion this holiday season, a new record.
In other words, technology is behind the "apocalypse." So instead of picking among retailers to "buy" and/or "short," we should be investing in the technology that's causing the "apocalypse."
And though it's a good start, we can do way more than "buy" Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).
In fact, we can get into an e-commerce-focused investment that's been doubling the overall market's return all year long.
One that shows no sign of slowing down...
A New Thanksgiving Tradition
While sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table, I'll bet a few members of your family kept peeking at their phones. (I hope it wasn't you.)
And they weren't just checking the latest sports scores or texting Aunt Joanie in Iowa. Fact is, millions of us spent time on Turkey Day playing "Secret Santa."
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You see, many Black Friday deals this year started a day early on Thanksgiving - and didn't even require a trip to the mall. All we had to do to take advantage was turn on our phones.
The numbers I'm seeing are telling me this campaign worked.
Amazon says that more than 50% of deal-related searches on Thanksgiving came through smartphones and tablets. Shopify Inc. (Nasdaq: SHOP), which hosts third-party resellers on Amazon's platform, said a stunning 60% of its Thanksgiving sales leads came through such mobile devices.
And the growth rates here are off the charts. According the Smarter Commerce activity report from IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Americans made 65.3% more purchases during Thanksgiving using their smartphones than last year.
To be sure, most online shoppers still use their home desktops or laptops. Roughly 70% of virtual purchases are still made on PCs. That's because it's still a bit tricky to make purchases on a smartphone - whether because of their small size or because you have to download an extra app.
But there are a range of technology and financial firms out there working hard to make "mobile" commerce - m-commerce - as easy as traditional desktop e-commerce.
And that should help our smartphones our primary e-commerce shopping tool very soon.
No More Glitches
If you haven't done any mobile shopping yourself this year, I understand. Until recently, m-commerce has often been a complicated, glitch-heavy process.
But now, our mobile devices offer easy, clean access to virtually all of the leading e-commerce sites - right at the moment you're inspired to look up a sale.
So really, gone are the days of having to wait to get back home (or to the office) to use your desktop to make a purchase. This is good news for e-commerce retailers. After all, you might forget what you're looking for by the time you get there - and retailers love impulse buyers.
Firms with reliable, glitch-free, easy-to-use mobile sites are reaping the rewards.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) says that its customers used to browse sales on their phones - but wait to get back home to make their purchase. But a much revamped mobile platform has led the volume of orders placed on Walmart.com to double from a year ago.
How did Wal-Mart make it easier to shop on phones? The giant retailer made customer service easily available. It created better sorting and filtering options, better linked its home-page marketing banners to checkout pages, provided product reviews on every single page, and let mobile shoppers buy or reserve orders online and pick up in store.
Just a few years ago, mobile commerce sites simply lacked many of these features. But smartphones are now leading the way in e-commerce... and retail overall.
Overall online sales are growing four times as fast as brick-and-mortar sales. But m-commerce sales are growing up to 10 times faster than standard retail sales.
Simply put, retailers without a viable m-commerce strategy have begun to enter a sales death spiral - that "retail apocalypse" we talked about earlier.
This is the best way to make some money while you watch...
About the Author
Michael A. Robinson is a 36-year Silicon Valley veteran and one of the top tech and biotech financial analysts working today. That's because, as a consultant, senior adviser, and board member for Silicon Valley venture capital firms, Michael enjoys privileged access to pioneering CEOs, scientists, and high-profile players. And he brings this entire world of Silicon Valley "insiders" right to you...
- He was one of five people involved in early meetings for the $160 billion "cloud" computing phenomenon.
- He was there as Lee Iacocca and Roger Smith, the CEOs of Chrysler and GM, led the robotics revolution that saved the U.S. automotive industry.
- As cyber-security was becoming a focus of national security, Michael was with Dave DeWalt, the CEO of McAfee, right before Intel acquired his company for $7.8 billion.
This all means the entire world is constantly seeking Michael's insight.
In addition to being a regular guest and panelist on CNBC and Fox Business, he is also a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter. His first book Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings warned people about the coming financial collapse - years before the word "bailout" became a household word.
Silicon Valley defense publications vie for his analysis. He's worked for Defense Media Network and Signal Magazine, as well as The New York Times, American Enterprise, and The Wall Street Journal.
And even with decades of experience, Michael believes there has never been a moment in time quite like this.
Right now, medical breakthroughs that once took years to develop are moving at a record speed. And that means we are going to see highly lucrative biotech investment opportunities come in fast and furious.
To help you navigate the historic opportunity in biotech, Michael launched the Bio-Tech Profit Alliance.
His other publications include: Strategic Tech Investor, The Nova-X Report, Bio-Technology Profit Alliance and Nexus-9 Network.