Mobile shoppers spent an average of $197 on mobile orders during the holiday season, a 17% increase over 2018.

Smartphones aren’t just for online browsing anymore. Mobile purchasing grew dramatically during the 2019 holiday season, according to data from mobile technology platform Button Inc.

Across the Button platform, mobile spending per shopper rose 68% from Nov 24, 2019, to Jan 3, 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier. During the same period, the vendor says the total number of orders per shopper increased 38% year over year, the total number of retail mobile app installations increased 106% and the overall mobile conversion rate increased 12%, Button found.

“We live in a mobile-first world—time spent on mobile is now double the time spent on desktop,” says Michael Jaconi, co-founder and CEO of Button. “As a result, shoppers in the U.S. are increasingly getting more comfortable using their phones to browse for content and make purchases at the tap of a button.”

Founded in 2014, Button provides technology embeds commerce actions inside the apps of publishers, such as BuzzFeed with retailers, such as Walmart. The connections can be app-to-app and on mobile websites.


Button draws its data from 300 brand publishers that generated “hundreds of millions in spending” during the period studied, the company says. Button converted the anonymous transactions to U.S. dollars and localized all time zones.

Because Button estimates it takes an average of 104 taps for a user to complete a purchase on mobile, more retailers are focusing on simplifying the payments process, Jaconi says. “As more companies bet on business models focused on actions instead of ads, transactions not impressions, mobile commerce will become the lifeblood of the future internet economy,” he says.

Button’s research also found mobile shoppers spent an average of $197 on all mobile orders during the holiday season, an increase of 17% over 2018. Those consumers spent an average of $59 per order—up 23% over 2018, the vendor says.

Retailers’ new customers—defined as those who had not purchased within the last year—spent an average of $75 per order during the holiday period, the company says. New customers also made up 81% of all customers over the holiday season and contributed to 52% of all holiday spending.



Active customers—those who made a previous purchase within 30 days before the holiday season—spent an average of $41 per order and made up just 9% of all customers and 32% of spending over the holiday season, Button found. During the week starting Sunday that includes Cyber Monday, which Button calls Cyber Week, apps outpaced mobile web when it came to conversions, with 86% more conversions and 27% more orders per customer.

Among Button’s other findings:

  • During the holiday season, shoppers are more likely to browse around and shop at new brands and retailers to find that perfect gift for their loved ones. Because brands run a lot of promotions over the holidays targeting new customers when their intent to shop is the highest, these customers end up converting at a higher rate and spending more.
  • Of those who made purchases during Cyber Week, 73% were new customers to the online retailers where they made their purchases. Together, those new customers represented 55% of overall sales during that period.
  • 37% of the users acquired during Cyber Week went on to make a second purchase, Button says. Those findings coincide with Nielson Co. research, which finds a $1.60 billion year-over-year growth in spending by new customers in the fourth quarter of the year.
  • Users who installed retail apps during the last two weeks of October represented 18% of overall holiday spending during the holiday period.
  • A quarter of users who installed a retail app during the week of Thanksgiving went on to make a purchase. The average order value for these users was $101—the holiday season’s highest.
  • Across the Button platform, conversion on apps was 86% higher than on mobile websites and orders per customer were 27% higher on apps than on the mobile web.

The Button data reinforces a recent report from analytics firm Contentsquare that says shoppers continue to move away from desktops and toward their mobile devices for holiday shopping. The firm says desktop traffic for the period Nov. 24, 2019, to Jan. 3, 2020 fell 6% compared with the same period in 2018. Mobile traffic—from smartphones and tablets—grew by 1% and accounted for 68% of traffic during the 2019 holiday shopping period.

Contentsquare found mobile devices dominated traffic to retailer websites Nov. 15 through Dec. 24. Contentsquare collected data from 314 million user sessions, with a focus on apparel merchants.