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The Impact of Holiday Mobile Commerce This Season

If one trend emerged from the 2014 holiday season, it’s that more consumers are choosing not to wait in lines on Black Friday but instead shop at home from their smartphones and tablets. Mobile (and tablet) commerce continues to evolve in the online retail world and has become a focal point for many retail strategies during the holiday season and moving into 2015.

But what should online retailers know about the impact of mobile commerce on the holiday season? Here are a few things…

  • Mobile sales account for a large (and growing) portion of sales on key retail holidays – According to IBM, U.S. mobile sales accounted for 22% of all 2014 Cyber Monday sales and 41% of all site traffic. In general, consumers had more site sessions via smartphone devices but converted at a higher rate on tablet devices (mobile 2.2%, tablet 5.7%). Tablets also had an average order value of $121, over $20 more than smartphones.
  • Mobile devices are used to check prices (especially with older shoppers) – While mobile sales continue to increase, these sales are primarily skewed towards younger shoppers who are more comfortable purchasing on mobile devices. Especially for shoppers over the age of 40, mobile devices are used to check prices but rarely used to buy online (only 6% of all mobile purchases are made by consumers in this age range).
  • Black Friday is even more popular than Cyber Monday for mobile U.K. users – Mobile sales grew 36% year-over-year on Black Friday in the U.K. and was led by a surge in mobile traffic with over 60% of all site sessions originating from mobile devices. 47% of all 2014 Black Friday sales also occurred on mobile devices, 4% more than the Cyber Monday percentage.
  • In-store mobile payments are also becoming more common – Some consumers have become more comfortable with online shopping on their mobile devices because they occasionally use these devices for in-store purchases. According to Accenture, only 58% of U.S. internet users have never made an in-store mobile payment, down significantly from 83% in 2012.
  • Mobile advertising continues to be a minor factor during the holiday season – Despite the strong number of mobile sessions during the holiday season, very few retailers opted to increase their paid search spend on these devices (especially smartphone only ads). Only 9% of all holiday advertising spends between November 27 and December 1 were used on smartphone paid ads.
  • E-mail marketing continues to be key for driving mobile holiday sales – With more consumers relying on their mobile devices as their primarily method for e-mail communication, it has become key for retailers to get the right messages into their inbox. On Black Friday, e-mail marketing impacted approximately 27% of all online retail sales, with many sales happening on mobile devices or through a cross-device purchasing path.

In conclusion, the emergence of holiday mobile commerce was one of the most impactful trends during the 2014 season. As we look into 2015, mobile devices will likely continue to increase not only in sessions on online retail sites but also in conversion rates as a larger percentage of consumers continue to become more comfortable completing transactions with their mobile devices.