The 2015 E-Commerce Holiday Recap: Mobile Shines, Stores Stumble

The 2015 holiday season is in the record books now, but there’s still plenty to learn from shopper data analyses. Heavy promotional activity means consumers discovered lots of bargains. While brick-and-mortar stores seemingly got a big ol’lump of coal, e-Commerce’s strong holiday showing provided some retailers with their most wonderful time of year. 

Custora’s Holiday e-Commerce Recap Report 2015 dishes up facts and figures on more than 200 U.S. retailers, 500 million shoppers, and over $100 billion in transaction revenue from November to December 2015. Key findings include:

  • e-Commerce revenue was up 12%, maintaining a five-year pattern of double digit growth; 
  • Cyber Week entered the shopping lexicon and claimed the top shopping days of the holiday;
  • “Mobile magic” reigned supreme, with nearly a third of online purchases made on a smartphone; and
  • Free and paid search and email marketing (not social media) were the stars of the season.

Shoppers were treated to seemingly endless offers as Thanksgiving’s early-bird promotions kicked things off, helping to account for a 10.7% increase for the week over 2014’s total. Within the week:


Cyber Monday, the season’s highest grossing day, accounted for 6.3% of total holiday sales in terms of revenue and orders; and 

Black Friday came in second for the season, accounting for 5.2% of total holiday sales.

But while Black Friday still generates a huge buzz, some shoppers (and retailers) felt that it was becoming just a blip on the holiday schedule, thanks to non-stop retailer email blasts stretching from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Forget The Letter, Let’s Text Santa

Mobile’s market dominance proved itself once again in 2015, as Black Friday was “Mobile Friday”for yet another year: More than 36% of online shopping that day was done on a mobile device. The trend toward mobile shopping was especially pronounced on Thanksgiving day, when orders on phones and tablets comprised nearly 40% of all e-Commerce transactions. Apple devices were the vehicle for 64% of phone and nearly 82% of tablet transactions.

Gaga For Google, So-So For Social

With all of the available channels for marketing, a few stood out, while one over-hyped method was somewhat absent. Nearly 40% of online transactions originated from search (either free or paid). Organic (free) search drove 21.5% of orders, while paid search drove 17.7%. Trailing behind, but by no means a no-show, email marketing drove 20% of online orders, especially on:

  • Thanksgiving, when it was the primary channel for the day, accounting for 23.3% of orders;
  • Black Friday, which continued the trend with 25.1% of online orders; and 
  • Cyber Monday, which again demonstrated email’s reach with 22.1% of orders.

Once again, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), while undoubtedly a major vehicle for influencers, had little direct impact on transactions. Through the holiday season, social media drove only 1.8% of all e-Commerce orders, down from 1.9%.

Wrapping It All Up

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become as American as Thanksgiving itself, but their days as the premier driving forces of the holiday season may be numbered. Consumers are consulting online sources to find things they want at lower prices throughout the holiday season, making these celebrated days less special. 

In fact, more customers seemed to be shopping last-minute, and a number of promotions designed for these procrastinators were some of the top performers in terms of conversions and revenues. In short, you better watch out; Thanksgiving 2016 is only 300 days away, so start getting your mobile commerce capabilities ready.

Download the entire report at

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