Shopping changed a lot in 2017 -- and smartphones are to blame

  • More shoppers made purchases from their phones in 2017 than ever before.
  • Optimised apps and websites and integration with speedy services like Apple Pay have made mobile shopping more streamlined.
  • This represents a new stage of e-commerce and was the biggest way that shopping changed in 2017.

2017 will go down as the year that shoppers finally discovered their phones.

Online shopping is still growing far more quickly than traditional brick-and-mortar retail, and much of that is thanks to people using mobile devices to shop, according to a recent Business Insider Intelligence report.

Mobile shopping was a dominant trend this holiday season. It was first noticed when Black Friday deals started on Thanksgiving, when almost half of all online retail traffic was coming from smartphones, according to Adobe Analytics data. That was an increase of more than 15% over last year.

At the same time, traffic from tablets and desktops decreased, making mobile the most popular option for Thanksgiving shopping for the first time.

But it didn’t stop there. The trend continued on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Smartphones were one of the biggest drivers of growth on Cyber Monday, responsible for 44.6% of site visits and nearly 30% of revenue, according to Adobe. Site traffic from phones increased 21% over last year, while revenue generated from phones increased 41% – a growth record.

By early December, conversion rates for phone users – shoppers actually buying instead of just browsing – was up 12% when compared to last year.

Shopping on Amazon’s apps increased 70% this season, according to the company, fuelling Amazon’s biggest holiday season ever. Amazon is projected to have captured about 50% of all holiday orders, according to GBH insights.

Part of this is that everyone keeps their smartphones on them at all times – but it’s also that shopping experiences have been refined through apps and integration with mobile-wallet services like Apple Pay.

For example, Apple Pay helps users avoid entering any personal or delivery information, allowing them to make a purchase immediately with just a thumbprint or face scan. It also helps buyers feel secure after using their thumbprint to pay.

Most retailers have taken pains to make their app experiences more streamlined, reducing the number of steps it takes to get from the shopping basket screen to the order confirmation screen and resulting in more sales.

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