Online and Mobile Buying Trend Upward

Sales from mobile devices reached 13.3% in Q1 2012, up from the 7% in Q1 2011.

The U.S. retail industry saw continued growth in online and mobile buying trends in the first-quarter, driven by today’s rising digital consumer marketplace.

According to the IBM retail online economic indicator, a cloud-based analytics report that examines the state of the online retail sector, mobile commerce grew to more than 13%, while online buying grew more than 6% in March 2012. 

This report follows recent news from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau, which announced its estimates of U.S. retail and foodservices sales for the first-quarter 2012. According to the findings, retail sales increased by 0.8% in March compared to February and sales for the month were up 6.5% compared to the same time last year. Total sales for the first quarter of 2012 were up 6.4% from the same period a year ago.

IBM’s retail online economic indicator identified several trends of importance to chief marketing officers, ecommerce leaders and customer service professionals. The most notable development over this first-quarter period was the continued growth of mobile commerce sales which accounted for 13.3% of online retail sales— double the number seen in the same time-frame the previous year. 

In addition to sales, the economic indicator identified an increase in positive consumer sentiment around key attributes of a successful digital buying experience. The indicator found that consumers are increasingly optimistic when it comes to convenience, experience and overall value, each up from this same period last year, based on their online shopping experience.  Businesses are also increasingly looking to analyze social media such as Facebook and Twitter to assess the way their customers view them.

Part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, the retail online economic indicator draws data and insights from IBM’s big data offerings to provide the industry’s most comprehensive look into the pulse of online retail through traditional and social media channels.  The indicator analysis for first-quarter 2012 reveals the following trends in online retail sales for Q1 2012 versus Q1 2011:

Consumer Spending: While total online sales were down 1.9% over Q1 2011, sales increased 6.3% from February to March 2012.

Mobile Sales: Sales from mobile devices reached 13.3%, up from the 7% in Q1 2011.

Mobile Traffic: 17.1% of all online sessions on a retailer’s site were initiated from a mobile device, exceeding the 6.1% over this same period in 2011.

Mobile Devices: Apple’s iPhone continued to rank one for mobile device retail traffic at 6.5% with Android taking second at 5.9%. iPad came in third at 5.3%.

Social Traffic: Shoppers referred from Social Networks generated 1.1% of all online traffic over Q1 2012, identical to the 1.1% seen in 2011.

Social Sales: Shoppers referred to retailer sites from Social Networks generated 2.4% of all online sales over Q1 2012, an increase from the 1.7% seen over this period last year.

The IBM retail online economic indicator features data from IBM’s analytics offerings including the Benchmark and IBM Cognos Consumer Insight. The IBM Benchmark is the only analytics-based, peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results, including real-time sales data. All of the data is aggregated and anonymous.  Analysis of public social media content came via IBM Cognos Consumer Insight, which provides insight into underlying holiday shopping trends, hot topics of discussion and consumer sentiment.  



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