A global study finds consumers bought more on phones than on PCs on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Early discounting pulled holiday online sales forward.

Retailers around the world that rely on Salesforce Commerce Cloud e-commerce software increased their online sales by 18% during the heart of the recent holiday season, with much of the increase coming from consumers shopping on their mobile phones.

During Cyber Week, which Salesforce defines as the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, consumers placed 41% of their orders via mobile phones with Salesforce Inc.’s e-retail clients, an increase of 28% from last year. Thanksgiving Day registered a first, with consumers placing more orders via smartphones than on personal computers by 46% to 45%, with the remaining 9% coming from tablets. Phones played an even bigger part Christmas Day, accounting for 50% of purchases, while shoppers placed 39% of their orders on PCs and 11% on tablets, Salesforce says in its report, “All Wrapped Up.”

For the five-week holiday period covered by the report, Nov. 21 to Dec. 26, Salesforce says computers accounted for 51% of purchases, mobile phones 40% and tablets 9%.

An even larger percentage of visits to retail websites came from mobile phones, peaking at 64% during the week of Christmas and Boxing Day, the Dec. 26 holiday celebrated in the United Kingdom and some of its former colonies, and 68% on Christmas Day. For the season, smartphones accounted for 60% of traffic.

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“As we move into 2018, expect to see continued, elevated mobile traffic and order shares,” Caila Schwartz a senior industry strategist at Salesforce Commerce Cloud, wrote in a blog about the report. “Retailers should take advantage of consumer confidence in mobile ordering now by embracing mobile design best practices and mobile wallet options that ease friction in the checkout process.”


Heavy discounting led to big sales growth around Thanksgiving and in the few days that followed, with year-over-year sales increases of 30% on Thanksgiving Day, 32% on Black Friday and 33% on the Saturday and Sunday that followed. By the time Cyber Monday rolled around, consumers—at least those shopping at the websites of Salesforce retailer clients—were largely done, and sales increased only 15% year over year.

In fact, for the second year in a row, Salesforce says its clients sold more on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, than they did on the following Monday, Cyber Monday. “Black Friday has also earned global appeal, with countries around the world now taking part in the shopping holiday,” the Salesforce report says.

While Salesforce did not disclose the geographic breakdown of the retail websites or consumers covered in this report, charts in the report broke down transactions in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, the Nordic countries, Australia and New Zealand.

It’s likely non-U.S. transactions pushed Black Friday into the top spot in the Salesforce report. In the United States, Cyber Monday remained the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season, with sales roughly 30% higher than on Black Friday, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

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The Salesforce report says discounts averaged 22% during the week before Thanksgiving, 26% higher than last year. Retailers increased the average discount to 24% on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the average sale percentage ranged from 27% to 29% through the following Tuesday, before falling back to 20%. Retailers ratcheted up the deals late in the season with discounts of 26%, on a par with Black Friday, Salesforce says.

The report also noted:

  • 20% of consumers who browsed a site early in November returned later in the season.
  • 34% of early-season shoppers added an item to a shopping cart, and 17% of those who purchased during Cyber Week had previously started a cart.
  • During Cyber Week, 81% of orders shipped free, versus 68% for Boxing Day (Dec. 26).
  • 17% of shoppers who arrived via mobile phones started a shopping cart, and 14% of those carts turned into sales, an increase of 4% over 2016.
  • A quarter of purchases during Cyber Week were made using a mobile wallet, payment information stored on the device, and that increased to 40% late in the season.
  • Mobile visitors were more likely to come from social networks in 2017, peaking at 7% during the Thanksgiving shopping week, an increase of 24% over the same period in 2016.
  • Product recommendations drove 30% of sales during Cyber Week.
  • During Cyber Week, 11% of visitors used a retailer’s site search feature, and 5% took advantage of production recommendations. The 1% that did both accounted for 10% of the week’s sales for Salesforce retailer clients.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a business unit Salesforce created after acquiring e-commerce platform provider Demandware Inc. in 2016. At the time of the acquisition, Demandware said it had 349 clients that operated 1,590 e-commerce sites.

Demandware largely catered to fashion brands—47 of the 80 retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 ranking of North America’s top e-retailers that list Salesforce as their e-commerce software provider sell apparel and accessories, according to Top500Guide.com. Several of them also operate in Europe and other parts of the world. Examples include L.L. Bean Inc., No. 35 in the Top 1000 and No. 205 in the Europe 500; Lands’ End, Nos. 49 and 236, respectively; and adidas AG, Nos. 52 and 24, respectively.

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