5 Holiday Online Shopping Trends To Guide Your 2019 Strategy

While the holiday season is behind us, the insights from consumer online shopping trends from the period between Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, 2018, can be useful in guiding e-commerce and marketing strategies all year long.

An analysis by Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), based on aggregated and anonymous data via Adobe Experience Cloud, looked at more than 1 trillion visits to U.S.-based retailers and sales of more than 55 million unique products during the holiday period to uncover how consumers are shopping and buying online.

We’ve boiled it down to five insights.

1. A Focus On CX All Year Long Helps Drive Holiday Sales
Holiday 2018 online shopping trends show that short-term marketing strategies of pushing deals and offers work only half the time in getting consumers to purchase products. ADI has found that the last step in the customer journey is equally split between marketing-aided and consumer-defined channels, demonstrating that loyalty strategies year-round help drive online purchases during the holidays. Indeed, 50% of online holiday revenues can be attributed to marketing directly impacting the customer journey (think: paid search, email, social, display), and 50% of revenues came from unaided tactics such as direct traffic and natural search.

“The findings really stress the importance of delivering an exceptional online and physical store experience all year long, so that when the time comes to buy, consumers think of your brand, product, or store first,” said Taylor Schreiner, director at ADI.

2. People Are More Comfortable Buying Online
In total, online holiday shopping reached a whopping $126 billion this year, a 16.5% increase year over year. Average daily online revenue was over $2 billion for the first time ($2.1 billion on average), with 26 days of the 61-day period exceeding that mark. The highest day for online sales revenue was, unsurprisingly, Cyber Monday. (Click here for the full Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday analysis.) The lowest day for online sales was Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

“The season saw overall strong growth in online sales, which are growing faster than overall retail sales,” Schreiner said. “This is an indication that people are getting more comfortable shopping online and with their smartphones.”

3. The Mobile Traffic-To-Revenue Gap Remains But Is Shrinking
For the first time, smartphones accounted for more than half (51.4%) of all online visits during the 61-day period that ended on Dec. 31. Additionally, 31% of online sales were made via smartphone, which is up 24% YoY.

Christmas Day, ADI found, continues to be the most phone-centric day of the season, with smartphones comprising 61.1% of visits and 42.3% of revenue.

“We’ve seen a typical pattern of strong phone usage on the weekends, where share of visits and revenue increase 6% and 8%, respectively, since phones are most likely to be used on the weekends and desktops in the office,” Schreiner said.

4. The Thanksgiving Through Cyber Monday Weekend Kicks Off Holiday Shopping Mode
While shopping did start early this year, the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday accounted for $1 in $5 (19.2%) of total online retail revenue during the holidays.

Consumers spent an average 40% more per day during the three weeks after Cyber Monday than the first three weeks of the season.

“We saw that holiday sales spiked on key days and then continued to rise until Dec. 21,” Schreiner said. “The rising revenue was due to a steady increase in conversion as opposed to consumers spending more per order.”

ADI also found that retailers reached the $100 billion mark 11 days earlier in 2018 than they did in 2017 (Dec. 15 versus Dec. 26).

5. Retailers With A Compelling Online And In-Store Experience Have The Advantage
ADI’s analysis found some distinct shopping trends for retailers that have just an online presence versus those that have an online store and a physical location. For example, retailers that have both physical locations and online stores saw a 50% increase in the usage of buy online/pick up in store (BOPIS). However, BOPIS baskets tend to have just two to three items in them, presenting an opportunity to upsell once consumers get into the store to pick up their orders, Schreiner said.

In comparison, online-only retailers have lower cart abandonment than their omnichannel competitors, with consumers 44% more likely to complete their orders with a pure play retailer.

“We think a primary driver is how the interaction occurs,” Schreiner explained. “Pure play shoppers are also more likely to use a desktop, so that explains the lower cart abandonment.”

To stand out as a retailer, you must be exceptional, which comes down to one thing: experience. Read about how Adobe helps retailers deliver customer experience innovation.

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