Mobile Devices Expected to Boost Holiday Sales – What This Means for Retailers & Small Businesses

Mobile devices are forecasted to account for 16% of the total US retail ecommerce sales this holiday season. The research and analysis from eMarketer, Inc. suggests that smartphones and tablets will contribute to sales growth through direct purchases and as a shopping tool that drive consumers to stores or desktops to complete their purchases.

The chart below shows US retail mcommerce sales by device for 2011 through 2017:

Source: eMarketer Inc.

Source: eMarketer Inc.

Sales using tablets are predicted to hit $26.05 Billion, or 62.5% of the overall retail mcommerce sales. The smartphone share is decreasing but actual sales dollars for purchases made via smartphones is increasing. Retail sales made on smartphones are expected to reach $14.59 billion.

Mobile devices are increasingly being used to open emails too. According to research at Return Path, 48% of overall commerce emails are opened on mobile devices. Emails from retailers have a higher mobile open rate of 55%. A similar study at Experian Marketing Services found that 50% of unique opens were mobile only:

Source: Experian Marketing Services

Source: Experian Marketing Services

Global statistics are interesting metrics but they don’t mean much without actionable information for individual companies. The takeaway for retailers and small businesses is that mcommerce has to be part of every company’s marketing strategy. Creating mobile friendly access to websites and emails makes it easy for consumers to complete their holiday shopping. Simplifying the buying decision streamlines the transaction process. Easier shopping and service experiences improve loyalty and sales.

Optimizing webpages and emails for mcommerce provides a competitive edge because companies have been slow to adapt their websites and emails for mobile access. While there isn’t enough time to plan and implement a full scale mobile makeover, there are some things that you can do now:

  • Know the difference between tablet and smartphone mcommerce. These devices are often grouped together when people talk about being mobile ready. This is a mistake because smartphone and tablet shopping is very different. Creating shopping experiences on each type of device that match user behavior optimizes revenue generation.
  • Shop your business using different devices and browsers. The shopping experience varies by device and browser. Take a walk in your customers’ shoes to see where improvements can be made. Create a list of every issue and frustration you encounter as you navigate your website. The education is priceless.
  • Open your company’s emails using smartphones and tablets. Is the content easy to read? Can the links be easily clicked? Or, do you have to scroll from left to right to read and enlarge the email to click the right link? Most email marketing services offer the ability to create mobile versions. If yours doesn’t, start thinking about making a change. (It is a good idea to wait until after your peak season in case there are problems.)
  • Create a prioritized “get mobile ready” list. A prioritized list that includes tasks, resources, level of difficulty, risks, and expected return on invest simplifies the implementation process. Low risk, high return items need to be completed as soon as possible. High risk items need to wait until after the holiday season.
  • Test and measure. Measure and test. However you do it, gather as much as possible during the holiday season so you can use the information to make next year even better. Every marketing piece and service change needs a control and results to create a continuous improvement environment.

Need help getting optimized for mcommerce? Email Debra at

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