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Q3 2018 saw robust digital commerce growth led by solid increases in both shopper spend and traffic. According to Commerce Cloud data compiled in our latest Q3 Shopping Index, retailers enjoyed a powerful year-over-year digital growth rate of 17% thanks to a very healthy increase of 11% in digital traffic alongside a 6% growth in shopper spend. This was an exciting quarter beyond just digital growth, as shoppers showed record levels of engagement with brands, and mobile orders were a hair’s breadth away from overtaking computers.

The Q3 Shopping Index analyzes the activity of more than 500 million shoppers worldwide to identify trends and changes in shopping activity. Here are our top findings to help you understand the current retail climate:

 

1. Shoppers showed highest buying intent ever for a non-holiday period

Rather than taking a shopping pause before the busy holiday season, shoppers expressed the loudest buying signals ever for a non-holiday period. Buying intent (e.g. searching, adding a product to a cart, or starting a checkout) rose to 22% this quarter, a 21% increase since Q3 2016. Between computers, mobile, and tablets, all channels saw steady increases in shopper engagement, indicating that there is no such thing as a “weak” channel.

 

2. Mobile about to totally dominate orders

In September, we predicted that mobile would account for 46% of all orders this holiday, marking a significant milestone. Fast forward to Q3 and we are closer than ever to realizing this prediction. Forty-five percent of shoppers placed an order through their phones, making mobile devices just one percentage point away from pushing computers aside and dominating orders. It almost goes without saying at this point, but retailers must prioritize their mobile experiences now, starting with removing friction from the checkout funnel.

 

3. Site search surges, putting pressure on searchandizing strategies

Site search is an increasingly crucial component of this engagement. In fact, since 2016, site search usage grew by 22%. More shoppers than ever are using search to find exactly the product they want. However, revenue contribution from site search has remained flat during that time frame. That means retailers must focus on improving their searchandizing strategies, including making search smarter, if they hope to optimize this strong shopper engagement trend. We will explore this topic in more depth in a forthcoming blog post.

 

4. Social media enjoys big gains

Visits to retail sites from social media platforms grew slightly in Q3, increasing to 5% of all traffic from 4% in Q3 2017. However, the difference in attribution between devices is stark — social platforms drove 7% of mobile traffic while computers saw less than 2% of visits from social. The message is clear  — mobile is the preferred device for social media-savvy shoppers. But the real story for mobile goes deeper than the overall share of traffic. Social is having massive gains in raw traffic growth year-over-year, with mobile devices seeing a 46% increase in traffic to retail sites.


For more data-driven insights, check out the Q3 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: U.S., Canada, 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.