Record-Setting Year for Mobile Holiday Shopping

Nearly half of American adults own smartphones, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. As a result, Americans have increasingly turned to their mobile devices to complete tasks that once may have occurred only on a computer or in person.

As mobile devices have become more prevalent, it should come as no surprise that shopping behavior has changed as well—this year nearly 1 in 5 holiday shoppers played Santa through their smartphones or tablets. Gilt Groupe’s Vice President Jason John stated, “I would not be surprised if 50% of our sales came from phones and tablets at this time of year.”

Retailers have spent tremendous amounts of money targeting consumers on their mobile devices. Not all retailers have been equally successful in their efforts, however. The New York Times suggests that retailers who have synced their shopping carts across platforms are more successful in completing the sale. IBM data indicates that overall, while 25% of visits to e-commerce sites occur on a mobile device, only 15% of purchases do.

Technology analysts suggest that people simply need time to get more comfortable with new technology. In the future, analysts expect shoppers to complete more of their purchases through their mobile devices.

Let’s take a look at some additional numbers and stats from this shopping holiday season:

  • Walmart anticipated mobile devices to drive 40% of its online holiday traffic
  • eBay stated that 1 in every 3 customers use mobile devices to research their products or make purchases
  • On Black Friday, IBM found that 16% of shoppers made a purchase from their smartphone this year
  • Mobile device users accounted for 44% of total searches for last-minute gifts and store location
  • 65% of high-end device users reported that they had used their device to find a business, and then made a purchase at that business in person
  • Greater than 33% of both smartphone users and tablet users planned to start their shopping before Thanksgiving

As consumers adapt to mobile shopping, retailers must become more strategic to keep pace with their customers’ expectations and stay ahead of their competitors. More and more, smart retailers are adopting predictive analysis to inform their sales staff on how to market correctly to the target consumer. Services are being designed to analyze large amounts of data to determine a customer’s intent.

A supplier who can call up mobile reports from their iPad while working with a distributor in real time can make smarter marketing decisions and realize improved sales. Mobile platforms can deliver real-time data to sales representatives on their tablet devices. Before long, mobile analytics will be commonplace in helping with each customer’s individual sale.

Monitoring and understanding a typical customer engagement in retrospect also provides foresight in improving the customer’s future experience, and thereby increasing sales. Similar analytics can verify experiences that customers respond well to, versus ineffective marketing campaigns. This subsequently drives companies’ strategic direction and ensures a better return on investment.

Special thanks to Daniel Wai from Slalom Consulting for his contributions to this article.

Ryan McNaught and Daniel Wai are members of Slalom’s Information Management Thought Leadership Committee. For more information, email the team at

About mostlyanalytics
Chief Editor for Mobile Analytics thought leadership in Slalom Consulting's New York Information Delivery practice and an IBM Certified Solution Expert – Cognos Business Intelligence; all views are my own.

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