Holiday sales are set to grow 13% this year over 2017, with mobile devices pushing 68% of e-commerce visits and 46% of orders, according to a new report from Salesforce. The cloud computing firm estimates artificial intelligence (AI)-based product recommendations will account for 35% of revenue.
Cyber week — from the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday — will generate 40% of all e-commerce sales this holiday season, up 8% over last year, and e-commerce traffic from Instagram will increase 51%. The top digital shopping day of the holiday season will again be Black Friday with 10% of the season’s revenue, and Cyber Monday will add 8% of sales.
Ranked by global revenue, the top five days for digital shopping will be Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Sunday, Thanksgiving and Cyber Saturday. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were fighting for dominance last year as well, and Salesforce reported that 59% of shopping for this holiday season will be completed by Dec. 2, beating the 2017 season by a day.
Not only will retailers need to be prepared for many customers using their phones for shopping and while in stores, they will need to be ready by Nov. 20, which is the start of Cyber Week, when 40% of all digital revenue will come in, two-thirds of it starting with mobile. Two weeks later, on Dec. 2 — a day earlier than last year — half of all holiday shopping will be completed, according to Salesforce’s report.
This trend will continue and grow until Christmas Eve, when mobile use peaks at 72% of all e-commerce visits and 54% of purchases. Free shipping — a decision-maker for holiday procrastinators in the past — will also increase, being offered on 72% of all orders, per Salesforce.
“Mobile is undoubtedly the most disruptive force in retail since the onset of ecommerce,” Rick Kenney, head of Consumer Insights at Salesforce, said in a press release. “This is the year shoppers turn to phones, buying more on phones than any other device, and making far more visits, too. We’ll see more visits from phones this season than total ecommerce visits across the entire 2015 shopping season. And even those in-store shoppers are mobile — 83% of shoppers aged 18-44 are using their phones while in a physical store.”
Social media will also be a force this holiday season, with Instagram, which could be launching its own shopping app soon, growing its traffic 51% over 2017, while Facebook, which owns Instagram, will see a 7% drop in traffic. Overall, the social media share of traffic will rise above 5% this holiday season, an increase of 17% over 2017. Salesforce said that shoppers for health and beauty products will be the most likely to use Instagram to get to an e-commerce site.
Retailers will increasingly rely on AI product recommendations to drive growth to add personalization — more than a third of all revenues will derive from these suggestions, according to Salesforce. “Nearly two-thirds of consumers say they don’t feel that retailers truly know them. But retailers who infuse AI into the shopping experience can better understand customer needs and drive increased revenue with capabilities like personalized product recommendations,” Kenney said.