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Mobile traffic surges over holiday season

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Mobile traffic surges over holiday season

January 06
04:57 2015

Shoppers kept a firm grip on their phones this holiday season as they typed, swiped and searched their way to deals over the last two months. A full report on how retailers fared during the most important time of year for sales is still coming, but early data show that mobile devices contributed to a surge in shopping in November and December. Mobile traffic accounted for 45% of all online traffic from Nov. 1-Dec. 31, up more than 25% from a year ago, according to IBM’s digital analytics benchmark. While far more people completed purchases on desktops – accounting for 77.3% of all online sales – mobile accounted for 22.6% of online sales, a 27% increase from last year, IBM data show.

And some are already forecasting for next holiday season, predicting desktop purchases will slip as smartphone and tablet screens get bigger and become easier to shop on. “Next year we think we’ll start to see conversion rise (on mobile),” says Lucinda Duncalfe, CEO of Monetate, a company that helps retailers personalize the online shopping experience. “(Customers are) totally going to spend more. It’s much easier to be spontaneous on the phone. You’re there, you see it, you buy it.

Certain shopping days in particular had significant mobile traffic: Thanksgiving and Christmas Day both saw mobile traffic account for more than half of all online traffic, and on Christmas it was closer to 60%, according to IBM. Four years ago, mobile traffic was just 6.5% of all online traffic on Thanksgiving. 

“It’s a pretty dramatic change,” says Jay Henderson, director of strategy for IBM Smarter Commerce. “It has really big implications for how retailers engage with customers…” Fueling the shift in shopping behavior is both increased adoption of smartphones and devices with larger screens, making it easier to browse and buy, Duncalfe says. Mobile apps and experiences also contributed to in-store purchases, as customers used their devices to compare products, read reviews, and search for inventory with interactive store maps.