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Retail Tech

AI, Mobile & Social Drove Digital Transformation This Holiday Shopping Season 

By Dennis Kaiser

The top highlights and trends from the just wrapped up holiday season reveal a number of shopping shifts and emerging retail models. Salesforce’s 2018 Holiday Shopping Report revealed a number of tendencies, data and insights brands and retailers can draw from for future holiday shopping seasons.

Retail’s digital transformation was driven by mobile commerce, which eclipsed desktop for the first time, as 48% of orders were placed from mobile devices, compared to 44% from computers. Further reflecting the tech shift, 16% Cyber Week buyers engaged with AI-powered product recommendations and spent 14% more than those that did not. And, the growing influence of Social media was in full effect. It was the breakout channel of 2018, with a 34% increase in social traffic and Facebook/Instagram accounting for 94% of all social traffic to retail sites.

“Retailers saw strong digital growth this holiday season,” said Rob Garf, VP, Industry Strategy for Retail, Salesforce. “Rather than the retail apocalypse that many have proclaimed, we saw signs of a massive digital transformation. Enhancements in artificial intelligence, mobile, and social triggered a fundamental shift in the way shoppers will browse and buy into the future.”

Among the key highlights of Salesforce’s report were:

Retailers saw strong digital growth this holiday season with Salesforce Commerce Cloud customers accounting for a record amount of orders for the November 20 through December 26 reporting period. Digital orders grew 18%, driving a 12% increase in digital revenue year-over-year. Between November 20 and December 3, 25% of shoppers displayed a buying signal, such as completing a purchase, adding a product to cart, starting a checkout, or using site search – the highest rate ever recorded – indicating early it would be a strong holiday season. Fifty percent of holiday shopping was completed by Monday, December 3. By December 15, 80% of shopping was complete, just in time for the USPS Christmas shipping deadline on December 14.

Mobile orders were up 19% percent over 2017, with 66% of traffic coming from mobile devices, an increase of 11% over 2017. A resounding 74% of shoppers browsed from mobile phones on Christmas Day.

Artificial intelligence boosted holiday shopping revenues too, with 16% of Cyber Week buyers engaged with AI-powered product recommendations. AI-driven product recommendations saw peak engagement on Cyber Monday, with 18% of buyers engaging and averaged 15% for the season.

Digital wallets helped drive a significant increase in seamless checkouts. Twenty-eight percent of mobile shoppers used wallets like Apple Pay or PayPal, and 29% of mobile orders came from mobile wallets on peak days including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With reduced friction between discovery and purchase, shoppers using mobile wallets checked out 90 seconds faster than those that did not.

Social traffic grew 34% year-over-year for the entire holiday season, with Facebook and Instagram accounting for 93% of social-referred visits. Nike, Amazon and the iPhone were the most talked about companies and products on social media this holiday season.


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Inside The Story

Read more at Salesforce’s 2018 Holiday Shopping ReportConnect With Salesforce’s Garf

About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.

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