Whisper it quietly, but the days of digital’s relentless growth may be over. At least, that is, when you just look at traffic. The latest Salesforce Shopping Index for Q3 2017 shows the needle for global retail traffic growth barely trembled, year-on-year.
Some may call that a sign of maturity. Some may call it stagnation. But in fact, it's neither.
When you look at the detail in our very latest analysis of over 500 million shoppers world-wide, it's quickly apparent that the dynamism is still there. What's beyond doubt, though, is that digital commerce is shifting into a new, more sure-footed phase.
So, what's lying beneath the seemingly placid surface of zero-growth in traffic? How about a 15% surge in revenue growth for starters? Shoppers worldwide might not be hitting the digital-commerce servers in any greater numbers; but they're certainly opening their wallets wide when they do.
UK shoppers aren't quite holding their own in that respect. Our report shows a 12% growth in revenue, compared to the 15% seen globally. Where the UK is making its mark is in per-visit shopper spend. That's up by nearly 25% since this time last year, perhaps a healthy sign of what may be to come for the all-important Q4.
So, is the uptick in spend down to shoppers getting ever more comfortable with shopping digitally? Or have retailers learned how to take those conversion rates to the next level?
Well, buyer intent is certainly still on the up. We found that, globally, intent is now at 17% for active shoppers. In the third quarter in 2016, it was at 15%. And, here in the UK, shoppers push that just a little further, with their intention to buy at 18% for Q3 2017.
But there's no doubting that UK retailers are working hard to ring those digital checkouts. Free shipping and discount rates are at an all-time high here, standing at 71% and 19% respectively. Maybe the tempting offers on hand are winning over the sceptical British buyer?
Another big factor on this side of the pond is the smartphone. It's now the platform of choice for the UK shopper, with 43% of orders coming from our own little pocket-rockets. Only 39% came from computers, making this the first time that mobile beats computers on the orders front. That PC sitting on our desk or lap is falling out of favour.
That makes the UK something of a stand-out. At the global level, we found 52% of shoppers are still ordering via their computers, versus 38% using mobiles. New Zealand and Australia are the only countries in our report that can beat us in the mobility stakes, with 47% of antipodeans tapping 'Order' on their smartphones.
So, our report suggests a richly seamed story. While the headline traffic number may appear flat, looking deeper reveals plenty of glimmering threads. Have a peek yourself: our interactive 'slice-and-dice' of the full Shopping Index is a veritable digital commerce data mine. You might just find your own little nuggets of retail gold.