Retailers enjoyed 18% growth in digital orders during the 2018 holiday season and a 12% boost in digital revenue year-over-year, according to a new study by Salesforce. And email played a big part, with a 23% increase in sends over the prior year.
In addition, Salesforce noted a 12% increase in digital revenue year-over-year.
The study determined that 25% of shoppers — the highest rate recorded — displayed at least one of several buying signals between November 20 and December 3. These included completing a purchase, adding a product to a cart, starting a checkout or using a site search.
In addition, 48% of orders came from mobile devices, a 19% increase over 2017. And 60% of traffic occurred via mobile — an 11% increase.
To top it off, 74% of shoppers browsed on mobile phones on Christmas Day.
Salesforce studied data on hundreds of millions of global shoppers as seen through its Commerce Cloud. Also, it examined 200 million cases powered by its Service Cloud and millions of social media conversations fueled by its Marketing Cloud. Moreover, it surveyed 6,000 consumers in six countries.
What else did it find?
Half of holiday shopping was completed by Monday, December 3. And four-fifths was accomplished by December 15.
Marketing Cloud sent over 88 billion emails, mobile SMS and push notifications during the season — a 25% hike over 2018.
Artificial intelligence contributed to the increase in sales, with 16% of cyber week buyers being served AI-powered product recommendations. These consumers spent 14% more than those who had not received AI-driven offers.
Cyber Monday was the peak day for AI-fueled engagement, with 18% of buyers engaging. The average was 15% for the season.
Social media traffic grew 34%, with 93% of it coming via Facebook and Instagram. The most talked-about companies on social media were Nike, Amazon and iPhone.
Salesforce also saw an increases in digital wallet use, with 28% of mobile shoppers paying with ApplePay, Paypal or other wallets. On peak days such as Black Friday on Cyber Monday, 29% of mobile offers came were processed through mobile wallets.
"Retailers saw strong digital growth this holiday season," states Rob Garf, VP, Industry Strategy for Retail, Salesforce.
He adds: "Rather than the retail apocalypse that many have proclaimed, we saw signs of a massive digital transformation. Enhancements in artificial intelligence, mobile, and social triggered a fundamental shift in the way shoppers will browse and buy into the future."