Smartphone-Driven Holiday Sales Nearly Doubled In 2015

The shift to smartphones as a preferred means of online shopping is continuing to have an impact on the e-commerce industry, according to new data released by Adobe this morning. During the 2015 holiday sales season, including both November and December, smartphones nearly doubled their share of sales over the year prior, accounting for 17 percent of sales versus tablets’ mere 11 percent. Tablets, in fact, dropped by a percentage point compared with 2014, indicating more consumers are choosing to shop by phone.

In addition, mobile traffic soared on Christmas Day, where 62 percent of online retail traffic was driven by mobile, says Adobe.

In total, a record $83 billion was spent online during the holidays, an increase of 12.7 percent over 2014. In addition, 2015 broke a new record with 31 days surpassing the $1 billion mark in daily online sales compared with 25 days in 2014.


And as per usual, holiday sales accounted for a huge chunk of all the year’s sales. This year holiday sales clocked in at 28 percent of all online sales, even though average order value was flat at $113 per order after Thanksgiving.

This data comes from Adobe’s measurement of online transactions across the web and mobile devices. Today, Adobe measures 80 percent of sales taking place on the top 100 U.S. retailers. And this new holiday index includes insights based on aggregated data from 1 trillion visits to 4,500-plus retail sites from November 1, 2015 through the end of the year.

However, while mobile traffic and transactions are growing, desktop shopping is still king for the time being. Overall, desktop saw 56 percent of traffic, with phones accounting for 39 percent of visits during the holidays.

That being said, there were individual days where phone traffic topped that of desktop, notes Adobe. The company even attributed 2015 holiday sales’ year-over-year growth to the surge of customers shopping by phone.

“We originally predicted 11 percent growth year over year. What we found is that, throughout most of the season, growth was actually slightly lower than 11 percent,” wrote Tyler White, an analyst at ADI. “It wasn’t until the very end of the season that we saw a significant surge in sales, which drove the 12.7 percent year-over-year growth. Phone traffic exceeding desktop traffic some days was one of the drivers of that growth,” he added.

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As is par for the course, iOS drove both more traffic and accounted for more sales than Android devices, with the one exception being average order value on sales from tablets. In that case, spend was $132 per visit from Android tablet users versus $114 from iPad users.

Another notable trend that took place over the holidays which also contributed to sales’ growth was the “buy online, pick-up in store” option that a number of retailers are now offering. This feature has helped to boost what would have otherwise been lagging sales in the week before Christmas, when consumers traditionally worried that online orders wouldn’t arrive in time.

Last-minute shopping was also big on the day before Christmas Eve (Dec. 23), when online sales grew 56 percent year-over-year, generating $920 million in sales compared with $590 million in 2014.

Adobe’s index also found that social is declining in terms of being a traffic driver to e-commerce sites – in fact, it was the smallest marketing channel. Instead, social media is better at raising awareness, but not immediately converting consumers to buyers.

“People aren’t interested in buying something while they’re checking out their friends’ news, but they do become aware of things that they might check out later on and actually purchase,” White explained in a blog post.

Affiliate and search traffic remained the biggest marketing channels during the holidays, but were down year-over-year, with email and display ads seeing momentum. However, the highest discounts (10 percent or more) came from display ads and social media promotions.

The report also examined differences between online shoppers around the world, noting that Northern Europe, the U.S. and Japan have the most mobile-oriented shoppers. Japan, for example, uses their phones for $7 out of every $10 in mobile sales. Plus, Japan along with China, Sweden, and Italy, favor their smartphones over tablets. In the U.K., U.S., Canada and Spain, it’s equal, though.

[slideshare id=57198029&doc=adi2015holidayshoppingreport-160118211607]