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Datacember 13th: Mobile is the procrastinating shopper’s best friend

File this under “obviously”: Holiday shopping is different than normal shopping because you’re giving gifts.

Look at your bank statements or Amazon purchase history from a typical month, say May, and compare it to how, what and for whom you’ll be making purchases for this month. Pretty different, right? And that difference is that you’re not buying everyday, mundane things for you and your immediate family. During the holidays, you’re buying gifts for your immediate family, extended family, friends, the office white elephant party and, ok, maybe even a couple things for yourself (plus all of those everyday, mundane things).

So, if your shopping is different, how different is your shopping behavior, particularly when it comes to shopping on a smartphone during the holiday season? And how might that smartphone shopping behavior be an increasing part of that key shopping use case … that last-minute shopper.

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That’s a tough dataset to come by, particularly because it can be very hard to discern signal from noise. What mobile traffic and conversions are truly gifts? And of those, how do you define “last minute” when it could mean “on the way to the party,” “can ship there in time” or anything in between.

But there’s another holiday on the calendar that can help answer this question. Mother’s Day. It’s not a holiday people celebrate all month long (but, that doesn’t mean we don’t love and appreciate you everyday, moms!). And it certainly shouldn’t be one where mom has to shop for herself. For some categories in e-commerce, Mother’s Day data is essentially pure gift-giving signal, free of the typical noise.

Knowing that, I pulled data for a site that does a massive volume of Mother’s Day business, and broke down sales by device for the period leading up to the holiday. Each device is considered discretely, meaning that the mobile line shows only the percent of mobile conversions that happened on each day with the two-week time period adding up to 100 percent. The lines for each device are completely independent from one another and don’t show the relative percentage of sales compared to one another.

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As you can see, mobile shopping peaks later and stronger than either desktop or tablet. That peak on Friday stretches through Saturday. In contrast, desktop and tablet are nearly identical curves and peak on Thursday. So, despite the complaints consumers still have about mobile checkout … they’ll do it for mom (and even pay some hefty last-minute shipping fees!).

Mobile is the procrastinating shoppers best friend.

Not a bad thing to keep in mind this holiday season as retailers fight to the finish. Those last-minute shoppers will be pulling out their phones for everything from store directions to rush orders. And if you’ve ever been to a mall on the 23rd or 24th of December, you know that patience and calm are not the emotions on display. If your mobile site can ease the pain of procrastination, desperate shoppers will convert … at least for mom.

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Mobile shopping image by Jason Howie used under Creative Commons license.