3 Key E-Commerce Trends Revealed by Holiday 2016
The 2016 holiday season was the first year many of us said “Goodbye” to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and “Hello” to Cyber Weekend. Sales reached an unprecedented $7 billion ($3.34 billion-plus on Black Friday and $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday), likely due to the successful improvements retailers have made to their e-commerce experiences. This evolution marks three trends that will carry us far beyond the holidays and into the coming year, reflecting new shopper expectations and habits.
Mobile Usage is on the Rise
Black Friday saw 36 percent of sales generated from mobile phones, while consumers went on to spend a whopping $1.07 billion on their tablets and smartphones on Cyber Monday. That reflects a surge of 33 percent and 35 percent, respectively, since last year. Though desktop computers still generated the highest conversion rates (around 6 percent), mobile devices accounted for 55 percent of all online shopping visits on Black Friday. This begs the question, if shoppers aren’t completing transactions on their phone, what’s the use of mobile sites?
Today, most shoppers use their phones for research, forcing retailers to offer experiences that allow shoppers to easily browse and quickly find what they're looking for. E-commerce retailers can deliver this experience by implementing filtered navigation or product recommendation tools. Case in point? For our retail clients at Edgecase, we found that mobile filter engagement spiked five times from their normal usage.
Without a great navigation and on-site search experience, mobile shoppers will head elsewhere to research and eventually buy.
First-Time Visitors Spike Over Holiday Shopping Days
Our research over the 2016 Thanksgiving shopping weekend revealed a major spike in first-time visitors, a trend often common throughout every major shopping season, from Mother’s Day to Back-to-School.
In preparation for the 2016 holiday season, Amazon.com rolled out Black Friday deals on Nov. 1, overhauled its mobile apps and added curated gift guides, package tracking and product matching technology to its existing e-commerce experience. The investment paid off: Amazon captured 31 percent of all online sales. Amazon's efforts prove that any retailer investing in personalized experiences will cultivate happy shoppers and better sales. So what’s a retailer to do?
New shoppers are more likely to rely on search and navigation to guide them through an unfamiliar site. For Edgecase customers, we definitely saw this pattern to be true. Filter engagement rates for first-time visitors are 40 percent higher on average than repeat visitors. Furthermore, our retailers saw a dramatic increase in filter engagement — a 48.7 percent increase on Black Friday and 46.7 percent increase on Cyber Monday — by shoppers motivated to find a particular gift.
Structured, Enriched Product Data Drives Better E-Commerce Results
A knowledgeable in-store sales associate is the best resource for shoppers who are looking to ask questions or receive recommendations by sharing their preferences. E-commerce retailers can mirror the in-store experience by leveraging structured product data. Product data includes product “tags” that respond to a retailer’s product “categories,” and are the backbone to search and curated campaigns. For example, good product data allows a shopper to search for a “travel yoga mat” and find a few options to buy.
By curating product data on a website, retailers can help shoppers narrow a broad set of products into the most relevant results, which is essential for first-time users unfamiliar with an e-commerce site or mobile users looking to quickly navigate a site and complete their research.
Many of us wish the magic of the holiday season lasted all year long. By reflecting on holiday trends and making updates to their e-commerce sites, retailers can make the magic last just a little longer to power more engaging, successful online experiences for the year to come.
Garrett Eastham is the chief data scientist at Edgecase, a product data intelligence platform.