- Digital revenue was up 15% for retailers in the first quarter, according to the Salesforce Shopping Index. Digital traffic was up 9% and shopper spend increased 6%.
- Mobile drove 60% of all traffic, while computers dropped below 50% order share and the impact of social traffic essentially stalled with just a 5% increase.
- Quarter-over-quarter since Q1 2017, the growth of shoppers using social media as part of their path to purchase has been essentially flat, Salesforce reported. In Q1 2018, social media channels resulted in 4.7% of visits to e-commerce sites and only 2% of all digital orders.
From the halls of Congress to consumers' homes, social media is getting a lot of attention for both good and bad reasons. Proponents of the social platforms claim it is playing a big part of sales growth in recent years, yet a respected study shows the growth to be essentially flat and in the low single digits.
Social media may have significant influence on young consumers, as well as sales potential, but it has yet to come into its own as a source of revenue.
But the growth of digital sales continued strong into the first quarter of this year, both in the U.S. and globally, with mobile increasing in importance at the expense of computers and tablets, the Salesforce Shopping Index reported. Mobile conversion rates rose 14% and smartphones now account for 41% of all e-commerce orders. The report measured the activity of over 500 million shoppers worldwide.
The impact on online sales by mobile is backed up by a recent study from Forrester Research, which found mobile commerce sales grew 29% year-over-year to $153 billion in 2017, accounting for one-third of all online retail revenue. While about half of U.S. adults shopped on their phone at least once last year, retail sales on tablets are losing momentum, with 6% annual growth projected from 2017 to 2022. In contrast, retail sales by phones will grow 16% over the same period, according to the report.
The index showed comparable growth in Q1 among all of the sub-vertical market segments measured. Active apparel grew 17%, general apparel rose 16%, luxury apparel increased 19%, health and beauty products went up 15% and home products rose by 18%.
Apparel sales are also shifting online at a great pace. In a separate study, Forrester found that the online apparel market grew by a compound annual growth rate of 14% since 2012, compared to 1% growth offline. Fashion’s share of web-based spending was 20%, outpacing the overall retail spend share of 13%.
The increases reported by the Salesforce Shopping Index have apparently come at a cost to retailers. Discount rates have gone up 10% year over year and reached an average rate of 21%. Retailers are also shipping more orders for free — during Q1, 65% of all orders shipped free, an 11% increase over the previous two years.