Salesforce’s Holiday Shopping Season Predictions Show Increased Growth for Mobile and Instagram

It's a mobile-first world

46% of all orders will occur on a mobile phone. iStock
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

For any retailers or brands still wondering how to approach the holiday season, there’s only one thing to know: it’s a mobile-first world and it’s where consumers want to search, shop and buy.

At least, that’s according to Salesforce, which released a report detailing several predictions companies can expect to see this coming holiday season. For example, for the first time, 46 percent of all orders will occur on mobile and “ecommerce traffic” from mobile, will grow 19 percent year over year.

“Shoppers are continually on the go and this holiday season is no different,” said Rob Garf, vp, industry strategy and insights for Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “[Consumers are] looking to be inspired, to browse, and to purchase, so it’s imperative that retailers really tune to a mobile reality that we’re all living.”

Instagram and shopping go hand in hand

Instagram referral traffic to retail will climb 51 percent year over year. Last year, of the total 4 percent of referral traffic from social, Instagram accounted for 13 percent of it. This year, it will capture 20 percent of the total 5 percent.

This increase shows that though social commerce isn’t totally figured out by brands and retailers, it’s here and consumers are using it as part of their shopping journey. It’s not totally surprising considering Instagram reported that it has 1 billion monthly active users, and Instagram Stories (which brands can tag products in), has more than 400 million daily users. Facebook’s referral traffic will decline 7 percent, but Gard said it still  “plays a meaningful role” in how a consumer shops.

However, the referral traffic from these platforms means retailers need to “look beyond traditional advertising,” Garf said. It’s not just simply serving an ad; it’s how it’s presented and what actions it causes a consumer to take.

“Retailers need to be creative and innovative on how they’re reaching consumers and where they’re reaching consumers at that moment of truth, of inspiration,” Garf said. For example, Kate Spade makes its posts on Instagram shoppable by “embedding product details.”

Retailers need to offer more recommendations to consumers

According to Salesforce, revenue of AI-powered product recommendations will have a 25 percent increase this holiday season, going from 28 to 35 percent. Garf said with so much emphasis on consumers shopping on mobile, retailers and brands need to “serve up the right product, at the right price, at the same time”—something that’s possible with AI.

“In most cases you have to swipe five times before you get to a product recommendation,” Garf said. “Consumers are time- starved and don’t have the patience. Retailers need to expose that intelligence and infuse that intelligence above the fold.”

While the 25 percent increase applies only to website on mobile or laptops, Garf said retailers can also look to inserting these AI-recommendations into email, chatbots or customer service representatives.

Free shipping is now a consumer expectation

Though there are plenty of companies that don’t offer free shipping (or have a threshold purchase minimum to meet it), Garf said consumers have spoken and it’s what they want, considering Salesforce predicted 72 percent of orders will ship for free this holiday season. Retailers can make free shipping more cost effective by marrying the online and offline experience, like offering shipping to the store or transferring between stores, suggested Garf.

“It’s reliant on the retailer to find the most efficient and effective last mile fulfillment capabilities but one of them has to include the physical store to be able to scale and scale in a cost-effective way,” Garf said.

The holiday season has many opportunities to reach shoppers

Salesforce also predicts that Cyber Week, which is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, “will account for 40 percent of all digital revenue,” with Cyber Monday capturing 8 percent of sales and Black Friday, 10 percent.

However, Garf cautions against retailers “discounting too early and too often,” advising them instead to diversify where a customer can find them or save additional offers to after this time period, like during Christmas Eve, when 72 percent of all visits will come from a phone and so will 54 percent of all orders.

“Ultimately, what our search shows is retailers and brands must be where the consumers are looking for inspiration and that’s increasingly off of the retailer’s property,” Garf said.

Get access to more news like this – sign up for Adweek’s ecommerce newsletter today.

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.