Global Digital Sales Grew 8% During Holiday 2019, Hitting $723 Billion

Holiday digital spending jumped 8% compared to the rest of 2019, reaching $723 billion worldwide, according to data from Salesforce. Mobile once again was the top channel, accounting for as much as 80% of digital traffic and 65% of digital orders on peak shopping days.

Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) was also a big winner, particularly toward the end of the season. Retailers that offered this service saw 56% more active digital users (shoppers who used a site search, added a product to a cart, and started to check out or completed their transaction) during the final five days of the season. These retailers also collected 18% more digital revenue after reaching their shipping cutoff dates.

BOPIS was particularly important due to the season’s ups and downs: holiday 2019 started strong, but e-Commerce sales trailed off early. Cyber Week boasted 13% digital traffic growth over 2018, with digital orders up 9%, but digital revenues fell 27% year-over-year during the week leading up to Christmas. Salesforce attributed this effect to smoothed-out shopping demand across the entire year, as holidays like Prime Day offered golden opportunities to start Christmas shopping as early as July.


However, these new shopping holidays didn’t put a damper on old standbys like Black Friday, which remained the top global shopping holiday. Thanksgiving itself saw sales jump 24% from 2018 to hit $20 billion, helping drive total cyber week sales up 15% to $143 billion.

Another technology that made a splash during the holidays: AI-powered search and product recommendations. These capabilities drove 10% of digital orders and 5% of digital revenue, showcasing the power of enhanced personalization.

“Throughout the 2019 holiday shopping season, retailers saw success with mobile commerce, store pickup and personalization via artificial intelligence and social engagement, removing friction in the ways shoppers browsed and purchased,” said Rob Garf, VP, Industry Strategy for Retail at Salesforce in a statement. “Mobile certainly catered to people on the go this holiday season, and in 2020 brands should be looking for ways to integrate this experience into physical stores for a true omnichannel shopping journey.”

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