Digital commerce overall grew 19% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2016, with mobile accounting for 52% of all shopping traffic and 30% of all orders, according to figures from the latest Salesforce Shopping Index, which measures the activities of 500 million shoppers globally.
The index also showed that social media emerged as a meaningful traffic-driving channel; driving 5% of mobile traffic, up 61% over last year. Salesforce also said 17% of mobile shoppers and 19% of tablet-based shoppers expressed buying intent, both of which led to increased mobile conversion during the quarter.
The fourth quarter also saw 11% more digital commerce traffic year-over-year, and an 8% spike in shopper spending. Shoppers engaging with site search contributed 18% of revenue to brand sites and 25% of revenue to retail sites.
A new day a new shopping study. The fourth quarter of 2016, and especially the holiday shopping season, has been pretty well rehashed at this point. Despite retailers like J.C. Penney and Toys 'R Us reporting disappointing holiday numbers, the retail sector as a whole appears to have experienced a healthy run up of revenue at the end of 2016.
The Salesforce Shopping Index is not the only source reporting that mobile had a lot to do with strong growth; comScore last month said spending via mobile during the holiday rush in November and December represented about 21% of $80 billion spent online during that period. Also, a report from the International Council of Shopping Centers noted that overall spending was up 16% just for the holiday stretch, and 86% of millenials used a mobile smartphone while shopping in a store.
The Salesforce report also makes the case that consumers' readiness to embrace mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay should drive even more growth for mobile shopping conversion rates. The timing of that statement is interesting: Earlier this week, a different study suggested that consumer adoption of mobile wallet solutions actually has stalled. There likely is no stopping the ongoing growth of mobile's role in the shopping journey, but we'll see what happens with those conversion rates if more consumers prove to be uncomfortable with the idea of paying via mobile.
Among other notable findings from the Salesforce index are the percentages for on-site search. The revenue contributions tied to on-site search seem like a vote of confidence for much of the activity around new innovations on that front, such as visual and image search, voice search, AI-driven search and other solutions. If retailers want to keep stoking digital commerce growth, they can rely to some extent on consumer willingness to increasingly leverage mobile while shopping, but they also need to continue refining the tools that help those consumers find the products they want. Allowing them to search by voice, with images or with the help of an intelligent machine should keep the digital commerce arrow pointing upward no matter what device consumers use to shop online.