Holiday eCommerce Recap: Totals & Takeaways, Part III

Data Scout is LSA’s series that curates and draws meaning from third-party data. Running semi-weekly, it adds an analytical layer to the industry data that we encounter in daily knowledge building. For LSA original data, see the separate Modern Commerce Monitor™️ series.

Now that the holidays are behind us, we can recap the totals and takeaways from the shopping blitz. After Part 1 of this series (offline shopping) and Part 2 (online shopping),  we’ll dive into the final installment: mobile shopping. What were sales levels and trending for mobile transactions?

One notable data point comes from Button, indicating that U.S. holiday spending from mobile shopping was up 189 percent from the average non-holiday rate. The data come from millions of transactions across the 300 publishers and brands Button works with for its in-app commerce technology.

Apps outperform mobile web according to the study, with 86 percent higher conversion rates. App installs also increased 94 percent during the holidays, compared with the install rate throughout the rest of the year. More importantly, 25 percent of those installs resulted in in-app shopping purchases.

This contradicts some data we’ve tracked that indicate app fatigue among consumers. Home screen real estate is becoming more and more scarce, while consumers use only a handful of apps regularly. Asking consumers to download your app, as opposed to a mobile web link, is increasingly difficult.

However, Button’s data indicate consumer willingness to jump through those hoops in certain circumstances. In this case, it was likely the dedicated mindset around holiday shopping that outweighed any potential app download friction or fatigue. That could have also involved promotional incentives.


Panning back, offline spending eclipses eCommerce (including mobile) in sheer dollars, but the latter is growing as consumers get more comfortable ordering a range of products online. eCommerce is growing 13.3 percent YoY according to the U.S. Census Bureau, versus 3.2 percent for retail overall.

So while brick & mortar spending is much greater, at about $4.9 trillion in the U.S., eCommerce is growing at a much faster pace and could have a brighter future. This holds key strategic implications for both big brand and SMB sectors around the growing importance of eCommerce strategies.

Somewhere between offline and online (including mobile) shopping is also the growth of online-to-offline shopping (O2O). Target has seen strong results from offering buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), followed more recently by Norstrom and Gap as countermeasures to “retailpocolypse.”

Other evidence can be seen in data from RetailMeNot, which reports that 60 percent of retailers plan to provide BOPIS this holiday season, compared with 52 percent in 2018. Collectively, this could be a leading indicator for the down-market opportunity for SMBs, even in categories like coffee and QSR.

This means brick & mortar SMBs that sell consumer goods (or vendors that serve them) should re-examine mobile eCommerce, desktop eCommerce, offline transactions and all the flavors of O2O along that spectrum. Consumer demand signals are clearly indicating the need to sharpen these tools.

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