Though there’s been a lot of hype about consumer preferences for experiences over traditional shopping, Salesforce’s fourth-quarter shopping index proves that shoppers are still spending on general apparel, health and beauty and home items. According to the solution-provider’s research, buying intent reached a record high — 18 percent — with mobile shopping also reaching new levels.
“Shoppers in Q4 showed clear confidence in mobile buying, as traffic and order share hit all-time highs of 60 percent and 39 percent respectively. Mobile is on the cusp of becoming not only the biggest traffic driver to retail sites, but also the biggest avenue for placing orders,” said Caila Schwartz, senior industry strategist at Salesforce Commerce Cloud, in a review of the data. “The growth values are even more staggering — all of the growth in traffic and orders came from mobile. Computers and tablets saw either flat or declining growth in both KPIs, but mobile saw a staggering 43 percent growth in orders and 25 percent growth in traffic.”
To collect the insights, the Salesforce Commerce Cloud reviews digital commerce web sites that have posted transactions during the reviewed time period. The index analyzes 796 digital commerce sites within 38 countries frequented by 500 million shoppers who comprise 1.6 billion visits.
But the impressive showing for the quarter did not come without its pitfalls. According to the Salesforce research, discount rates and free shipping reached 23 percent and 72 percent, respectively. This led to a slight decline in the average value and added additional pressure to margins.
Likely due to Amazon’s recent foray into the regions, Australia and New Zealand were the regions with the top digital commerce growth with an annual increase of 33 percent. Canada trailed at 30 percent increase, and the Nordics rounded out the top three regions at 26 percent.
Internationally, shopper spend was up. The average, per-visit amount spent reached $2.88 in Q4 — the highest to date. The last benchmark was $2.75 in Q4 of 2016. Interestingly, the research found that while all buyer intent was up 18 percent, the home category secured the highest spending motivation, reaching 27 percent general buying intent. General apparel and health and beauty followed with 19 percent buying intent, activewear secured 19 percent buying intent and luxury apparel earned nine percent buyer intent.
Though desktops maintain the highest order share at 51 percent, the overall usage is declining — computers held 56 percent of order share in Q4 2016. Tablet order share remained relatively flat for the quarter at 10 percent. Mobile, unsurprisingly, posted a rise in order share — posting a seven percent year-over-year rise from 32 percent to 39 percent.
“Shoppers registered the highest levels of buying intent on record, with 18 percent of traffic demonstrating a buying signal, like searching for a product, adding a product to cart or starting a checkout, during their visit,” Schwartz explained.
As consumers become seasoned deal hunters, the quest for free shipping and discounts continues to build. “This quarter’s discount rates broke records even for this peak shopping period. The average discount rate was 23 percent a nine percent increase over the same period last year,” Schwartz continued.
“Shoppers received some amazing deals as peak days within the quarter saw average discount rates creep toward 30 percent. This quarter’s discount rates broke records even for this peak shopping period. The average discount rate was 23 percent, a nine percent increase over the same period last year. Shoppers received some amazing deals as peak days within the quarter saw average discount rates creep toward 30 percent.”
All traffic driven by social media increased, the index showed. Mobile remained the top device for social perusing, securing six percent of traffic — conversely, computers only made up two percent of social media traffic. This signals to retailers and brands that while deploying social media influencer programs might elevate general awareness to a large audience — if targeted correctly based off analytics — this method is still not an end-all solution to move the needle on revenue or margins.
As omnichannel experiences improve, visit duration is decreasing substantially necessitating impactful — and personal — content from first click or swipe. According to the Salesforce index, visit duration averaged four minutes on mobile devices, five minutes on computers and five minutes on tablets, too. This consumer behavior points to the multiplicity of search patterns that individuals dispatch when shopping online.
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