Online holiday shopping has garnered retailers $65.14 billion so far (Nov. 1-Dec.5), a 14.7% increase over last year, with each of those days seeing more than $1 billion a day in revenue, according to Adobe Digital Insights, using Adobe Analytics data. Mobile is contributing a lot: Nearly half (48.8%) of visits are coming from smartphones (40.3%) and tablets (8.5%), and nearly a third (32.4%) of revenue is coming from those two platforms (22.3% and 10.1% respectively).
Online conversion rates are also showing growth, with 4.5% on desktop (up 10.6% from least year), 2% on smartphones (up 12.3%), and 4.3% on tablets (up 9.3%), Adobe found. The average order value of $130 is slightly lower, though, with a 0.6% decline.
But retailers could have raked in even more online sales, if not for technical and performance issues on many sites. Based on data from some 10,000 visits over the Black Friday weekend to more than 120 major online retail brands, performance monitoring platform Shoppimon estimates that retailers lost an average 13% of online sales to speed and other tech issues — amounting to as much as $1.88 billion in the three shopping days, or $900 million on Cyber Monday alone.
When contemplating their holiday shopping back in October, more than half of U.S. consumers thought they’d be using their phones to get things done, according to earlier research from Deloitte, though some of that includes using their mobile wallets to pay in store. (Roughly 1 in 5 respondents using smartphones for holiday shopping told Deloitte they'll pay for purchases in-store with a mobile wallet app.)
Turns out they weren't kidding. Shoppers are using their phones, plus any other devices available to them. U.S. shoppers are heading online, and starting mostly with search, Adobe found. Search retained the top spot when it came to share of sales for retailers (23% paid; 21.5% natural), followed by direct traffic (26.6%), email (19.8%), shopper helper sites (6.1%), display (1.8%) and social (1.2%).
What consumers have been searching for, a good part of the time, is discounts, and that’s remained true in some categories even now that the big weekend has passed, Adobe found. While the best deals were during the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, they’re still around on TVs (prices are down 15% since Oct. 1), computers (down 13.1%) and toys (down 15.0%), according to Adobe’s research.
Still, many shoppers who were ready to buy were thwarted, according to Shoppimon. Technical issues were four times more likely to occur on Cyber Monday than on an average day, severe performance issues took 33% longer to resolve, and online storefronts suffered twice the number of severe slowdowns on Black Friday than on average, Shoppimon found. Two of the most common snafus were caused by servers overloading and exposed error messages during the shopping experience.
One Kings Lane was one of the hardest hit by overloaded servers on Cyber Monday, which shut its site for an hour. And they were not alone, with even normally well-performing sites like Avon and LL Bean making Shoppimon’s bottom 10 list of retailers with the worst glitches. That's not to mention Macy's and Lowe's, who also suffered during the blockbuster weekend.
Plenty of retailers did fine, though, thanks to upgrades made in anticipation of the season’s amped up traffic. Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, Sears, Orchard Mile, Blue Nile, and Sephora all provided a high speed buying process, averaging just 1.2 seconds in load times, according to Shoppimon’s report.
Verizon, in its Holiday Retail Index, did find a post-Black Friday retreat from online sales this past weekend, with average daily e-commerce traffic volume down 18% on Saturday compared to the same day last year. But traffic picked back up the next day, and if such robust e-commerce continues, Adobe estimates that online spending this season could break $100 billion.