It was a positive start to 2018, as retailers saw healthy 15% growth in digital revenue in the first quarter, fueled by balanced increases in both digital traffic (9%) and shopper spend (6%), according to the Q1 Salesforce Shopping Index.
The growth in Q1 traffic represents a turnaround from the majority of 2017, when traffic growth to retail sites was largely flat. But carried by an exceptionally strong 2017 holiday shopping season, digital KPIs rose across the board in Q1.
Mobile had a remarkable start, sustaining strong Cyber Week performance. Mobile traffic continued to gain momentum, growing 21% year over year. In fact, all the growth in digital traffic came from mobile, as shoppers made fewer and fewer visits to retail sites through their computers and tablets.
As the year progresses, we expect to see even more retailers putting mobile at the epicenter of their overall digital strategy. We saw this evolution accelerate in Q1 as the gap between mobile traffic and orders continued to narrow. Mobile devices now represent 41% of all orders, growing 35% year-over-year. Q1 was the first full quarter where computers contributed less than 50% of all orders, adding to the inventory of mobile milestones. We expect to see mobile account for a larger share of orders throughout 2018 and beyond.
Social Media Impact is Limited
Social media’s impact on digital commerce has been negligible for as long as we’ve produced the Shopping Index, nine quarters. Despite high hopes, social’s share of visits to retail sites was flat at 4.7% overall and 6.4% for mobile. Shoppers are clearly active on social media channels – 2.5 billion people can’t be wrong – but getting them to move from there to a retail site has proven challenging. Now that mobile has solidified its role in commerce, the question is whether social media can be the next major source of fuel igniting a new wave of ecommerce growth.
Discounts Stick Around
One trend that did carry over into 2018 is rising discount rates for shoppers, which continued to increase in Q1 after peaking over the holiday season. Discount rates increased 10% year-over-year, reaching an average rate of 21%. In addition to offering steeper discounts, retailers shipped more orders for free; 65% of all orders shipped free of charge during Q1, an 11% increase over the last two years.
For more data-driven insights, check out the latest Shopping Index, which uncovers the true story of shopping by analyzing the activity of more than 500 million shoppers across the globe, with a focus on key markets: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Australia/New Zealand, and the Nordics. This battery of benchmarks provides a deep look into the last nine quarters and the current state of digital commerce.