Let’s cut to the chase … 2018 is poised to eclipse all holiday shopping online statistics from 2017.
To make this ecommerce season your biggest ever, we’ve pulled together the most-meaningful holiday trends based on both industry-wide stats and proprietary data from Shopify’s 600,000+ merchants.
Here’s an overview of where this special report is headed:
- Online Holiday Shopping Statistics 2017-2018
- Mobile Takes Over Black Friday (Sort of)
- Behold, the Almighty Power of Email
- AOV Makes or Breaks Holiday Advertising
- Top Products for Holiday Shopping Trends
- Holidays Go Global via Ecommerce
- Infographic: Holiday Shopping Online 🎁
Keep reading to discover the stats and trends
But if you’d like to find out the secret weapon thousands of high-growth brands are using to launch more campaigns this Black Friday, download our exclusive ebook for a behind-the-scenes look …
Online Holiday Shopping Statistics 2017-2018
The biggest of big pictures shows how crucial November and December are for online businesses.
Naturally, purchases peak during Black Friday Cyber Monday. But (based on the below graphic of online revenue per day) notice that while the entire week of Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday commands the bulk of online shopping, November itself far outperforms December.
It’s a trend known as Black November.
All told, 58 of Nov-to-Dec’s 60 shopping days saw over $1 billion in sales. Industry-wide data shows year-over-year growth across the board:
- Thanksgiving up 18.3%
- Black Friday up 16.9%
- Small Business Saturday up 10.8%
- Cyber Monday up 16.8%
On Shopify, year-over-year growth in 2017 was even stronger …
Over $1 billion in GMV during the four-day holiday event and, at its peak, $1,138,574.17 in sales per minute: 105% more than 2016’s $555,716 sales per minute.
Current global projections place 2018 — most notably, Black Friday and Thanksgiving — higher yet again:
The trouble is all those big numbers can feel overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve not just compiled all the data from 2017’s holiday online shopping, but also pulled out a few must-follow trends for this year and beyond.
Mobile Takes Over Black Friday (Sort of)
Just over one year ago, mobile’s dominance over desktop solidified itself online. At least, in terms of usage.
Since then, the question haunting ecommerce has been, “Mobile traffic is nice. But how do we close the conversion gap and sell on mobile?”
Worldwide, last year’s holidays were no different. Total revenue was up on mobile — reaching a cumulative $35.8 billion during Nov to Dec — but the disconnect between traffic and sales continued.
While 56% of traffic came through a mobile device, mobile only generated 33% of revenue:
The exception was Shopify.
Where desktop still outperforms mobile on sales worldwide, businesses on Shopify nearly reversed those numbers: 64% of sales during Cyber Monday and 59.6% of all BFCM sales took place on a mobile device.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the numbers:
This year’s predictions only serve to drive home the growing importance of mobile commerce.
The dominance of mobile — and particularly the disparity between worldwide orders and Shopify — reveals one insight vital for ecommerce the whole year round: responsive isn’t enough.
Displaying beautifully across all screen sizes is a good start. But today, that’s table stakes. Having a responsive online storefront is the equivalent of a cover charge; you have to pay to get into the party, but getting in doesn’t mean you’ll be the star.
Mike Mallazzo’s recent article, “How to Create Personalized Experiences for Unknown Black Friday, Cyber Monday Mobile Visitors,” offers a host of ways Dynamic Yield is doing that. His first example is also the most popular — page curl notification with personalized promotions.
Their use case illustrates why this mobile-based personalization is such a game changer:
“Consider that for a large outdoor retailer, Dynamic Yield data from Black Friday last year shows that iOS users spent about $110 on average while Android shoppers had an AOV of around $85.
“Thus, why not display a 20% off orders more than $100 for Android users to try and push them to increase the value of their baskets? For iOS users, the standard 20% promotion could apply to a more expensive category of items or those with particularly high margins.”
Moving forward, mobile payments must be as simple and intuitive as possible … particularly for impulse buyers.
Shopify Pay, for instance, helped over 400,000 online buyers checkout 3X faster last Black Friday Cyber Monday.
In the words of Alan Cassinelli, Director of Marketing at Peel — who saw its conversion rate double last holiday:
“Accelerated checkouts really take advantage of the new technologies we have to purchase. It doesn’t make sense to have to re-enter the same information over and over again across all of the Internet.”
“It’s kind of like going into your favorite coffee shop, and they all already know what your order is going to be. It’s a more personal experience. You’re not just some random person on the web. It’s just more convenient and, as everyone knows, convenience is the number one driving factor of ecommerce.”
As an added touch, consider employing dynamic checkout buttons to reduce dramatically the number of clicks necessary to purchase.
Even better, once a customer has selected their preferred payment method — ApplePay, PayPal, or Amazon Pay — Shopify’s backend remembers their choice and automatically presents their choice in the future.
Behold, the Almighty Power of Email
Despite its long-heralded death, email ruled last year’s online holiday shopping.
In addition to a jaw-dropping 8.8 billion data points collected during Black Friday in the form of email signups and a host of other lead-generation tactics, roughly 3 billion emails were sent.
What’s even more striking, however, were the results. On Shopify, email led the pack in conversion rate by referral source:
- Email 4.29%
- Search 3.04%
- Direct 2.93%
- Social 1.81%
According to data compiled by Klayvio, email drives 27% of all BFCM online sales.
Unfortunately, for 64% of retailers, shoppers acquired during BFCM have a lower lifetime value (LTV) than shoppers acquired at any other time of the year. To survive one-and-done customers, post-holiday online shopping strategies need to be built around loyalty-driving lifecycle emails.
Charlie Casey, co-founder and CEO of LoyaltyLion, outlines nine email strategies to move your holiday buyers from one-time customer to repeat customer and from at-risk customer to loyal customer.
As Casey puts it:
“At LoyaltyLion, we recommend having a post-BFCM loyalty strategy in place before committing your acquisition spend. Only once both are in place will you see the full benefit of BFCM.”
What applies to the holiday season applies equally beyond it. Email shows no signs of slowing down as a revenue driver … as long as you invest in segmentation, personalization, and crafting emails with which your customers want to spend time.
AOV Makes or Breaks Holiday Advertising
It’s common knowledge that offsite advertising conversion rates, along with onsite sales, both increase dramatically during the holidays. All that traffic can be intoxicating … until you consider two sobering realities.
First, despite double-digit lifts in overall revenue, increased competition means that average order value per shopper is nowhere near that.
In fact, Q4 average order value (AOV) for U.S. ecommerce has trailed Q3 AOV for the past two years:
Worldwide AOV in ecommerce for Q4 over the last two years, while higher, hovers around the overall mean:
Here’s what holiday AOV numbers — Q4 in the U.S. and Q4 worldwide — look like when compared with the rest of the last two years:
Second, CPC advertising on Facebook — as tracked by Common Thread Collective, an agency that runs content and creative for a host of heavy-hitting brands like North Face and DIFF Eyewear — skyrockets:
At Black Friday’s peak, CPC jumps to an average of $1.68 for ecommerce brands. Compare that to the overall CPC of Facebook retail and ecommerce ads of $0.70, and that’s an increase of 140%.
Put more bluntly …
If all you do is what the rest of the industry does, you can expect it to cost you 140% more to even get clicked on Black Friday Cyber Monday … with nothing more than a 1.45% increase in AOV at best.
That kind of ROAS can kill your holiday profitability even in the face of selling more overall.
The key is to build your holiday advertising with AOV front and center: from your ads to your storefronts to your product pages to your checkout.
Top Products for Holiday Shopping Trends
Another perennial question that surrounds BFCM is, “What product categories perform best?”
Based on last year’s data from Shopify’s merchants, here’s a cheat sheet:
Holidays Go Global via Ecommerce
Lastly, Black Friday Cyber Monday is now a worldwide phenomenon. Internationally, GMV increased by 17% in 2017. More impressive, 20.9% of all BFCM sales through Shopify came from 10 countries outside the United States.
A closer look at nine of those countries reveals just how global online holiday shopping is becoming:
Of course, the truth is that global ecommerce isn’t just the present and future of holiday online shopping. It’s the present and future of commerce itself.
Two lessons stand out …
Number one, site performance and page speed are paramount. Especially when you go global.
Part of the reason Shopify merchants are growing in over 175 countries is the dual content delivery networks (CDNs) Shopify provides to ensure international ecommerce visitors are given the fastest possible experiences.
Number two, businesses must deliver fast offline orders regardless of where their customers live.
For most online retailers operating at scale, this means finding a global fulfillment partner. After walking through a checklist of benefits, costs, and questions to vet such a partner, Nathan Resnick, CEO of Sourcify, concludes:
“That moment when you feel like an international customer has the same experience as a domestic one is when your business will have crossed borders. This is when you’ll really be able to spark an international brand and create seamless customer relationships across the world.”
It’s a lofty goal, but one that the survival of your company may depend on.
More campaigns, faster
Find out the secret weapon thousands of high-growth brands are using to make this Black Friday their best ever. Download our exclusive ebook for a behind-the-scenes look …
Infographic: Holiday Shopping Online
The overlaps between holiday online shopping and year-round ecommerce are striking.
But just so you can keep those lessons close at hand as you move into 2018’s holiday season, we’ve put all the data and insights into a single infographic.