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Early last year, we predicted that 2018 would be the year that mobile finally surpassed computers as the biggest driver of digital orders. Well, we are happy to report that this prediction has officially been realized. As of Q4 2018, mobile devices are now the number one driver of both digital traffic and orders. This makes mobile the most important revenue-driving vehicle for retailers as they explore ways to engage and convert their new and existing customers.

But mobile’s reach is far more interesting than just direct traffic and orders. Mobile shoppers are incredibly unique, and their shopping patterns are in a league of their own. We dive into our top three mobile trends that were realized in 2018.

 

Social traffic is entirely mobile

Social media made headlines in Q4 when it became the breakaway star, leading new shopping trends during the 2018 holiday shopping season. But social’s success is intertwined with mobile’s success. Overall, 6.2% of traffic to ecommerce sites in Q4 was driven by social media channels. When we look at this through the lens of mobile, that figure is higher, with 7.8% of mobile traffic coming from a social channel. And during key shopping days during the quarter, we saw even greater peaks. On Thanksgiving Day, 7.5% of all traffic was driven by social, with mobile seeing almost 10% of all traffic coming from a social channel.

Mobile’s influence on social traffic is even more apparent. We looked at the share of computers, mobile devices, and tablets driving social traffic this quarter. Eighty-two percent of all Q4 social traffic came from a mobile device, with computers accounting for 13%, and tablets 5%. The reality is that social’s success in Q4 is driven entirely by the increasing use of mobile devices as a shopping platform, and the cohesive nature of the mobile-social relationship.

 

Mobile shopping is brief

The nature of the mobile shopping experience is inherently “on-the-fly,” but just how much shorter are mobile shopping sessions compared to computers and tablets? Using Salesforce Commerce Cloud data, the discovery is quite shocking. Mobile shopping sessions are, on average, a whopping 32% shorter than sessions held through a computer, and 30% shorter than a tablet session. This means that retailers have precious few opportunities to catch and maintain their mobile shopper’s attention. As we kick off 2019, retailers should focus on the myriad ways to connect their mobile shoppers to products, and through the checkout process, quickly and easily. Check out our tips for improving searchandizing strategies.

 

Mobile shoppers score the best deals

On average, mobile shoppers appear to be the most cost-conscious. In Q4, mobile shoppers received an average discount rate of 22% off the total merchandise value, compared to computer and tablet shoppers, who saw 21% and 20% discount rates respectively. But this isn’t a Q4-only trend. Over the last nine quarters, mobile shoppers averaged a 21% discount rate while computer shoppers averaged only 19% and tablets shoppers averaged only 18%.

Some quarters, like Q3 2018, saw a discount delta of as much as 8% on mobile compared to computers. It's hard to know for certain why mobile shoppers snag bigger discounts, but one theory is that retailers and brands leverage social media as a promotional channel where bigger discounts are offered.

For more data-driven insights, check out the Q4 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.