Skip to content

Last year’s holiday shopping season was record-breaking in terms of eCommerce. When the dust settled, consumers spent $5.03 billion online on Black Friday alone and nearly half of those sales were made on mobile devices. Cyber Monday was equally as successful for online retailers, resulting in $6.59 billion in sales spent online that day. Consumers spent more last year — shelling out $82 more on average — which led to record sales across the board.

As a whole, the 2017 holiday season raked in $19.62 billion in online sales, Adobe Analytics reported. That’s a pretty vast number when you look at the big picture. Sales grew by $2.6 billion (up 15 percent) compared with last year, signifying that the biggest holiday shopping days are still on the incline, which is good news for your bottom line. Let’s take a look at this data and other holiday shopping trends to understand the behavior of eCommerce shoppers.

Top eCommerce Selling Categories of 2017

Now that we know there’s a lot to be gained by optimizing your mobile site for the holidays, let’s take a look at some of the most popular eCommerce categories of the year. In 2017, media, electronics and apparel are still the most-often purchased products online. With that being said, consumers are more likely to buy new product categories online, even those items that are traditionally sold in brick-and-mortar stores.

To that point, NPD Group reports that many of these items — primarily major home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and ovens — showed some of the highest growth potential in 2017. In 2016, online refrigerator sales alone grew by 40 percent compared to 2015. But that doesn’t mean that consumers aren’t pulling the brick-and-click, or checking out items in-store before buying online. In fact, they may be bricking and clicking more than ever in these categories.

eCommerce categories where showrooming occurs (the act of looking at a product in-store and then shopping around for the best price online) are also more likely to see more growth in the coming year. This is in part because marketers are now focusing on millennials and young professionals who are more comfortable purchasing items that are traditionally bought in stores through the web. Unique and personalized online shopping experiences have also helped bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping. 

Tips for Leveraging Sales Data and Managing Returns

Clearly, there’s a lot on the table for marketers who can properly leverage holiday spending to increase sales year over year. Developing an agile, data-driven marketing plan will help ensure that you’re always on top of the latest in user behaviors and trends during the holiday season and throughout the year.

  • Understand Your Consumer — We all know that data-driven marketing is everything. It helps you understand how, when and why your customers make certain decisions. Once you understand how your target consumer behaves, you can execute specific marketing actions (like sending segmented e-mails and developing social media campaigns) that are based on that specific consumer. Understanding how your target consumer base prefers to buy your product will help you spend ad dollars wisely.
  • Handle Returns the Right Way —With big-time sales comes more returns. One of the most important things you can do to keep customers happy during the holiday season is to add integrated management tools to your eCommerce platform to help better measure data and manage inventory. Make returns easier for customers with prepaid return labels, and prepare your employees and shipping partners for an influx of returns during and right after the holiday season.
  • Prepare for a Mobile Takeover — In 2017, mobile shopping overtook desktop shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is noteworthy because it was the first year shoppers preferred mobile over in-store on both days. Of course, you have to continue implementing mobile optimization into your marketing strategies by creating mobile-friendly websites and designated apps.
  • Market to a Global Audience — According to Shopify, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are gaining more and more popularity around the globe, with retailers seeing major upticks in sales from South Africa, Spain, the U.K., Canada, Germany and France. Notably, South African businesses saw over five times as many orders on Black Friday this year. Thus, focusing on a global audience and expanding your marketing reach may be a good way to heighten sales next year.

This year, the encouraging news is that eCommerce sales show no sign of slowing down. That’s a great endorsement for online shops everywhere, but you need to stay nimble to anticipate every industry turn that comes down the path. As long as you can stay ahead of the trends, you will be set up for success in 2018.