As we kick away the gift wrap and other post-holiday clutter and contemplate our good fortune, let’s contemplate something else as well: Holiday e-commerce performance by device.
Yes, we’re serious. The calendar still says Datacember, doesn’t it?
The point of this exercise is to acknowledge the tectonic shift that mobile has been causing in digital commerce for years. Mobile is where it’s going, but is it where it’s at?
Yes and no. (Don’t you love answers like that?)
If we sweep the ribbons and bows off our Datacember data-cruncher, we can see that when it comes to visits to e-commerce sites, the desktop (which includes laptops) and mobile are locked in an impressive battle for holiday supremacy.
The visual manifestation of the struggle looks like some sort of prehistoric hieroglyphics, but like the ancient drawings, they tell a story. Consumers are now using mobile devices — smartphones in particular — as much or more than desktops to visit e-commerce sites, according to a relevant subset of BloomReach e-commerce customer data.
Weekends are particularly strong for mobile, most likely because shoppers are more likely to be on the go. Mobile also was on the rise as the calendar closed in on Christmas Day. Again, the on-the-go argument seems apt.
Many were off work at the end of last week. And, yes, there was a little bit of shopping going on — shopping that undoubtedly featured a lot of smartphone use in, and on the way to, brick and mortar stores.
If we dig into product views, some subtleties begin to emerge. We think of product views as a good proxy for consumer engagement. The more product views, the deeper a shopper is going into a retailer’s digital site.
Here we see that smartphones are a strong performer, if not a real threat to desktop’s numbers. The percentage of product views on smartphones never eclipses desktop. But, if we combine tablet and smartphones, mobile does make up more than half the product views on two of the days during the holiday shopping period, which we’ve defined here as Veteran’s Day through Dec. 22.
Now for the star of our show: conversions, actual purchases online. Here we see that desktop remains the go-to device for closing the deal. Its statistical dominance was never in doubt. On a number of days desktop conversions accounted for more than 70 percent of conversions and it never dipped below 55 percent, which it hit on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
But if we look at last year’s data, we will see a subtle shift in how consumers are buying. In 2015, desktop accounted for an average of 68.2 percent of daily conversions during the holiday period. This year, the number was down to 66 percent. The comparison is not apples to apples, as BloomReach has more customers and a larger data set this year, but the numbers are a reasonable indicator of changes in consumer behavior.
Still, there is plenty to take away from this snapshot. First, take a look at the smartphone arc as Christmas nears. It’s near its high point on Dec. 22, as shoppers engage in the last-minute rush, a mix of hitting the malls and turning to one- and two-day delivery.
Also, the fluctuation of device-use for visits, views and conversions is a reminder that consumers don’t think in terms of channels. They think in terms of shopping and retailers need to be ready for them however they arrive.
Mobile will undoubtedly continue to rise in influence. Given the small screen size and tiny keyboards, retailers will need to provide a flawless customer experience on mobile. Asking a shopper to move to the desktop to seal a deal might simply be too much to ask today.
Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.