Study: Online holiday sales exceed last year’s gains
Mobile usage and search trends contributed to record-high e-commerce sales for the 2017 holiday shopping season.
During the 2017 holiday shopping season, U.S. e-commerce sales increased 13% from the previous year. In 2016, e-commerce sales increased 10.43% from 2015, according to new analysis from NetElixir.
For most of the retail categories analyzed, mobile sales saw modest gains. The biggest m-commerce increase was 11% in the cosmetics category. The apparel category saw a 2% increase, and gifting saw a 3% life, but the electronics and food & gourmet categories saw a slight dip in sales (1%).
“This holiday season data shows overall positive growth,” said Udayan Bose, CEO of NetElixir. “Consumers are continuing to move to online shopping for their holiday purchases, and are also using their mobile devices more for purchasing in specific retail categories like cosmetics. With the mobile visit data trending in a steeper upward direction, we can expect that m-commerce figures will be higher next holiday season.”
Despite m-commerce’s modest gains, mobile visits rose sharply across most categories. The apparel category saw a dramatic increase of 32% for mobile visits. All other categories saw single digit increases for mobile visits, which indicates that shoppers were using mobile devices more for browsing and product research this holiday season than before.
According to the report’s search marketing trends, average order values (AOV) saw the biggest lift this year with an increase of 19.4%. Conversions increased by 15.6%, impressions increased by 12.8% and the average cost-per-click went up by 14.2%.
“The increase in average order values was significant this holiday season and retailers should be taking note of this figure in particular,” said Bose. “This dramatic increase implies that consumers are growing more comfortable making expensive purchases online. The overall positive trend of the other search marketing metrics indicate that digital marketing is growing in effectiveness, leading consumers to the brands and products they are interested to purchase.”
E-commerce sales volume also ranged by U.S. regions. The highest increase in the south with a 24.3% jump. The next highest was found in the west with a 12.7% increase. The central U.S. had a 12.2% jump, and the northeast had an 11.4% sales lift.
Local retailers were ‘big business’ for Amazon in 2017
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) selling on Amazon Marketplace rang up big sales in 2017.
In 2017, more than 300,000 U.S.-based small and medium-sized businesses joined the Amazon Marketplace — a network comprised of companies that operate in every state in the U.S., and more than 130 countries around the world. More than 140,000 of these small and medium-sized businesses surpassed $100,000 in sales on Amazon in 2017.
Customers ordered “billions of items” from these businesses through Amazon’s Marketplace. More than one billion items were purchased during the holiday season, and more than 140 million items were ordered between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the company.
Other SMB milestones achieved in 2017 include:
• Fulfillment by Amazon shipped billions of items worldwide.
• Amazon Lending, a program launched in 2011, surpassed $3 billion lent to small businesses on Amazon.
• Amazon Handmade expanded to encompass 10 categories offering customers more than one million handcrafted items from thousands of artisans and small business owners across all 50 states, and more than 60 countries.
“More and more small and medium-sized businesses are choosing to join the Amazon Marketplace and sell alongside Amazon to reach customers around the world,” said Peter Faricy, VP for Amazon Marketplace. “Entrepreneurs and small business owners are succeeding on Amazon, and reinvesting in their local communities, efforts which create jobs and support local suppliers.”
Study: Shopping is ‘habit-forming’ for Prime members
Amazon’s Prime members are the site’s “super users.”
Almost 60% of customers shop on Amazon weekly, however Prime members are stepping up the frequency as they are more than twice as likely to shop online daily than regular consumers. For example, 6% of non-Prime Amazon members that shopped online daily, compared to 15% of Amazon Prime members, according to “Getting to Know Your Customers: Amazon User Study,” a report from Feedvisor.
Of the 1,500 Amazon shoppers surveyed, 85% of Prime members browse for products at least once a week, and nearly half (45%) make a purchase at least once a week — about half of the number who browse weekly. Thirteen percent of non-Prime members purchase on Amazon at least once a week — this is just under a quarter of those who report weekly browsing.
It is becoming more evident that Amazon customers are increasingly market-savvy. Customers’ top reason for visiting Amazon is to compare prices for items they intended to purchase (51%). Only about one-third of Amazon users go to Amazon ready to buy, and three-quarters of Amazon users will start their shopping journey with the Amazon search box. Other shoppers spend more time on the site researching products, comparing prices and browsing daily deals.
When it comes to research, more than 95% of all Amazon users report that they always or sometimes read full product descriptions before purchasing. Just under 80% said they always or often check third-party seller ratings when buying from a third-party seller, the report said.
Almost two-thirds of Amazon shoppers (65%) rank price as the most important factor (above faster shipping, free shipping and better product assortment) when purchasing on the site.
Prime members were also much more likely than non-Prime members to visit Amazon to browse deals and daily discounts (49% of Prime members compared to 32% of non-Prime members), and check delivery speed (21% compared to 10%). Prime eligibility is also an important consideration for Prime members, which 35% report checking before making a purchase.
“Customers take advantage of the platform for browsing products, deals, comparing prices and checking availability and delivery speed,” the report said. “Amazon is used for these purposes much more than Walmart, eBay, Alibaba and Jet.”
While desktops remain the most popular method for shopping online (51%), mobile is rapidly gaining ground with 47% of customers using mobile devices, up from 41% last year. Amazon Prime members shop on mobile more than non-Prime members, and are more likely to use Amazon’s mobile app than non-Prime members. Half of Prime members shop using mobile, of which nearly a quarter use Amazon’s mobile app — compared to just 14% of non-Prime members, the study revealed.
“These statistics conclusively show the growth of mobile commerce and the importance of optimizing websites for mobile use,” the report said. “Sellers who have not yet enhanced the shopping experience for mobile users should make it a priority.”