The signs are unmistakable – the morning commute is thick with the school-run crowd and the sun cream has gone from the shelves. Summer is fading and peak retail is swinging back into view. So, as Christmas crashes onto the consumer's radars, many retailers have already mapped the season's direction of travel and are seeking out trends on the commerce horizon.

In fact, it's the perfect time to check out the Salesforce Shopping Index for Q2. And, as per Q1 - it's a tale of two distinctly different retail journeys - as global and UK paths continue to diverge.


What is driving digital commerce growth? 

First up, the numbers crunched from half-a-billion shoppers confirm that – at a global level – digital commerce remains strong, with 14% YoY growth. And spending growth continues to outshine that of traffic, with shopper spend making up 8% of that growth (and traffic just 6%).

But the real action lies with the shift between channels. The engagement is changing in favour of mobile, hitting 57% of all site visits in Q2 2017, compared to 49% a year ago. That's reflected in orders too, with 34% of these coming from mobile sources this quarter, world-wide. In Q2 2016, mobile stood at just 29% of orders.


Mobile commerce in the UK

Zoom in to the UK though, and you'll find mobile actually fading as an order delivery channel. In Q2 2017 mobile's and desktop's share of orders has remained stable (30% and 48%). Though, traffic share increased slightly by 1% on mobile up at 60%, and desktop decreased by 1% down to 28% - confirming the trend that users prefer to make their shopping choice on mobile. Overall, UK retail in digital commerce growth is up to 8% while at 7% the previous quarter. Orders falling back with a thud, down by 8%.

It all suggests that UK retailers face an uphill struggle to convert surging traffic (which pushed 12% higher this quarter) into those magical 'ker-ching' moments. 'Look, but don't hit the buy-now button', could be the season's mantra.


So, what are retailers to do?

The Salesforce Shopping Index can help point to some answers:

  1. Search is a sweet spot: consumers love to search, and those searches reap retail conversion. The Q2 data shows that 10% of all site visits hit your search page, accounting for 23% of all revenue. But to make search work, you have to do a 'Google', knowing what your customers want even before they've typed it out. This is where AI (artificial intelligence) can pick up the slack. There are tools available to make your search result pages sing with relevancy to your customer.
  2. Learn to socialise: UK consumers are still passionate about social media. They continue to top the growth league table when it comes to the number of visits coming from social media platforms. Traffic growth from social topped 6% this quarter, with social-via-mobile traffic growth accelerating to 8%. Both numbers are top of the class among regions in our survey. So, for the UK, brand engagement on social media platforms is key. And the switch to 'mobile-first' in site design will pay back in spades.
  3. Don't table tablets: the UK continues to be tablet-friendly, with order share holding up at 23% this quarter, the same proportion as in Q2 2015. That matters because tablets manage to beat even mobiles when it comes to buyer intent. Those visitors to your sites who seem to have shopping on their mind – the so-called active shoppers – are at 21% for UK tablet users. Six percent actually follow through into buys. The conversion from active shopper to active buyer is actually higher for UK tablet users than any other country or platform.


These are just three of the stand-out insights to be plucked from the Q2 Shopping Index. Check out the interactive report and you'll be rewarded with even more. It certainly beats opening advent calendar doors, when it comes to timely and insightful rewards for the retailer, as we gear up for the season.