Mobile, AI-Based Recommendations Top 2018 Holiday Predictions: Webcast Recap

What will define the 2018 holiday season? While retailers saw 18% revenue growth during the 2017 holiday, this season’s growth will be shaped by numerous factors, including the continued growth of mobile, AI-based product recommendations and email marketing.

Salesforce unveiled five major predictions that will drive growth during the 2018 Holiday Readiness Webcast Series, based on survey data from 500 million shoppers worldwide:

1. More purchases will be made on a mobile device than any other device: The platform is poised to break traffic records in 2018. Mobile’s traffic share hit 61% last year and it is projected to jump again, to 68%. Additionally, order share will leap from 40% to 46% this year.


“On days such as Christmas Eve, we’ll see mobile order share reaching 52% and we’ll even see mobile traffic share reaching 72%,” said Caila Schwartz, Senior Industry Strategist at Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “This season will really be that turning point for mobile when it comes to order share, and will be the point at which going forward it starts dominating orders.”

2. AI-based product recommendations will account for 35% of total revenue: While personalization and recommendations will factor into holiday shopping more than ever, retailers must understand how to use them most effectively. By placing recommendations between the product description and reviews, retailers can see a:

  • 14% increase in conversion rate; and a
  • 25% higher add-to-cart rate.

3. Cyber Week will account for 40% of the holiday season’s sales: “Cyber Sunday” sales on Nov. 25 will be nearly as large as Cyber Monday 2017. Black Friday, Nov. 23, still takes the trophy for the highest share of the season’s revenue at 10%, with Cyber Monday expected to account for 8%.

4. Instagram will grow 3X faster than overall social traffic: Up to 30% of Internet users report purchasing a product they discovered on Facebook or Instagram, according to data cited from Cowen & Company.

“Instagram shopping is still a relatively new offering, but this season it should be a really important part of your overall selling strategy,” said Schwartz during the webcast. “This year, we’ve talked about how important it is, especially in mobile experience, to connect shoppers to products as quickly and efficiently as possible. By making every post shoppable, you’re easily able to accomplish this goal for your shoppers.”

5. Discounts and free shipping will dictate the course of Cyber Week, but not the rest of the season: While average discounts from Black Friday through Cyber Monday reach as high as 31%, discounts for the entire season are actually 22%, barely more than the 21% provided in Q2 2018.

“After we get through Cyber Monday in particular, the rest of the season generally operates like a non-peak period,” said Rick Kenney, Head of Consumer Insights at Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “You will still have discount peaks and valleys, but the entire season will be elevated, [although it will] not soar above your non-peak time.”

Master Marketing During Peak Season

Email marketing will continue to be a major ROI generator for retailers throughout holiday 2018, but mobile marketing is starting to gain steam. As many as 87% of shoppers will begin their hunt in digital channels, up from 71% last year, according to Salesforce. With 83% of shoppers leveraging mobile in-store, marketing across all digital channels becomes an even stronger retail imperative throughout this peak season.

In the session, Salesforce execs Megan Collins, Product Marketing Manager, and JR Linne, Senior Manager, Industry Solutions, Retail, shared case studies from retailers such as Hickory Farms that showed how to leverage targeted cross-channel engagement and predictive product recommendations.

To learn more about handling the holiday rush, check out the 2018 Holiday Readiness Webcast Series on-demand. The monthly series includes three more webcasts, including:

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