Holiday Predictions Webinar: Mobile, AI Product Recommendations Will Shine

Mobile has been growing fast during the past few holiday seasons, and it’s projected to hit a major milestone in 2018: more e-Commerce purchases will be made on mobile phones than on any other device during the season. That’s just one of the predictions offered by leading analysts at Salesforce, drawing on a global study of 500 million consumers creating more than one billion shopping visits.

“In the 2018 holiday season, there will be more mobile visits than all the e-Commerce visits on any device in 2015,” said Caila Schwartz, Business Intelligence Senior Analyst at Salesforce. Schwartz and Rick Kenney, Sr. Director, Strategy and Insights at Salesforce provided a look back at holiday 2017 and predictions for 2018 during the Retail Strategy and Planning (RSP) webinar, titled: Holiday Predictions: What To Expect Based On Data From 500 Million Shoppers.

[Read recaps of the other RSP sessions here.] 


Top Recommendations For Holiday Prep

The Salesforce speakers made several recommendations for retailers seeking to maximize sales and profitability this year:

Don’t wait to kick off holiday promotions: By Dec. 3, 2018, consumers already will have completed 50% of their online shopping;

Front-load your hottest Cyber Week deals: Cyber Monday has continued to lose ground to Black Friday, and even Thanksgiving, as a major shopping day. The entire Cyber Week will generate 33% of the holiday season’s e-Commerce revenue;

Streamline mobile shopping: Encourage use of mobile wallets, particularly during peak periods and deploy mobile checkout technologies in stores;

Expand use of AI-generated product recommendations: 35% of all digital revenue this season will come from shoppers clicking on a product recommendation; and

Feature Instagram in your social strategy: The speakers predict Instagram will grow 3X faster than social traffic overall this season, and Instagram Shopping offers multiple opportunities to connect social shoppers to a retailer’s product pages.

“Mobile will make the registers ring this year,” said Schwartz. In 2017 mobile accounted for 61% of e-Commerce traffic and 40% of order volume, but Schwartz predicts those figures will climb to 68% and 46% this year — and reach even higher on peak shopping days.

Brick-and-mortar stores are still relevant, but they are affected by mobile’s growth as well: 83% of shoppers aged 18-to-44 reported using their phones in stores. “The challenge is bridging the physical and digital realms,” said Schwartz. “Retailers are using stores to entice shoppers, with store-only promotions and even beacons to guide shoppers. This makes sense since 46% of people still prefer shopping in a physical store.”

Adding a friction-free mobile payment option, such as a digital wallet, can take advantage of what shoppers prize about mobile: its convenience and immediacy. “Johnston & Murphy did a ‘soft launch’ of Apple Pay, and even without much promotion it was used for 15% of mobile orders during the first weekend,” said Schwartz. “Shoppers sought it out and found it, and these Apple Pay users spent 90 fewer seconds on the site than other visitors.”

Go Ahead, Make A Recommendation

During Black Friday 2017, personalized product recommendationsdrove 30% of all e-Commerce revenue. Recommendations are particularly useful at this time of year, when people often are buying items for others rather than themselves.

“Don’t bury your product recommendations,” said Kenney. “When they are placed between product descriptions and reviews, they can generate a 14% increase in conversion rate and a 25% higher add-to-cart rate.”

Two offerings that are not optional for retailers are promotions and free shipping. During the Black Friday-to-Cyber-Monday period, 31% of digital retailers offered discounts and 84% touted free shipping. However, retailers can (and should) adjust their offers throughout the holiday season: “After you get through Cyber Monday, the figures are closer to a typical non-peak period,” said Kenney. “There are more opportunities for retailers to get outside of the ‘noise’ of promotion.”

Giving Tuesday, which follows Cyber Monday, is one of those opportunities. Retailers including Burton, Adrianna Papell and vineyard vines use charitable donations to “engage with shoppers on a different, more meaningful level,” said Kenney.

Social networks, particularly Instagram, provide retailers with other opportunities to influence shoppers rather than use a hard sell. “Instagram Shopping is a great way to connect shoppers to products quickly and easily,” said Schwartz. “We’ve seen Carter’s promoting outfit ideas to new parents and Pier 1 providing gift guides.”

Some retailers are bringing their social media influencers out of the social realm and “directly into the digital experience,” said Schwartz. “On the Yeti web site, social shoppers can follow these influencers’ journeys and make direct product purchases.”

The Salesforce webinar is available on-demand; all the RSP sessions are accessible here.

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