While most shoppers haven’t yet begun to think about holiday shopping, retailers have been in the throes of planning for the holiday rush for months. Maybe they’ve never even stopped. What can retailers expect this year? We’ve been studying online shopping behavior – 500 million shoppers and tens of millions of transactions – for several holiday seasons. Based on this data and our own insight, we can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that retailers can expect the following this holiday shopping season:

Growth
Based on historical holiday digital commerce growth, and our quarterly analysis of digital growth since holiday 2016, we predict digital commerce growth this holiday to come in at 17% vs. 2016.  Computers will still account for the majority of orders, at 45%, but mobile is closing the gap and will account for 37% of orders this year. With respect to traffic, it’s not even close – mobile will drive 61% of traffic vs. 34% for web. Tablets, which will drive 5% of traffic to retail sites, will account for 8% of orders. Shoppers will be most active (visiting sites and placing orders) from 8-10PM during the season.

Mobile and more mobile
Seven to ten percent of all iPhone orders this holiday will be made with Apple Pay, as more retailers implement one-click shopping to smooth the payment process. More shoppers will use mobile devices to look up product details in stores. Orders placed on phones will approach 40% on some typically high-mobile days, like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Social media becomes a force in retail 
Influencers will influence far more shoppers, as social platforms are already driving real traffic to retail sites – 5% of all mobile traffic comes from social according to the latest Shopping Index – we expect to see that rise to 7% this holiday season. Much of that traffic will be paid social, and some organic brand social. A rising share of social traffic contribution will come from influencers, both well-known celebrities and micro-influencers. Leading retailers and brands are investing in management of programs to cultivate and leverage these influencers like never before, attracting consumers from the major social properties and pulling them to their sites. The message – don’t ignore social media as a marketing tool and definitely don’t ignore influencers on social that can have an impact on your business.

Click and collect boosts the season’s slowest shopping days
Sixty percent of shoppers aged 25-44 are interested in using click and collect, according to our recent Shopper-First Retail’ report, and as more retailers ramp up their efforts to offer it more broadly, usage will certainly increase. The trend towards click and collect could change the dynamics of the digital shopping season. How? Typically, December 20-24th are the weakest digital shopping days of the season. But if shoppers have an expanded window in which to buy online and still receive the order prior to Christmas, those lighter end of season days could very well see a sales bump.

While some trends are easier to predict than others (cough, cough, mobile, cough), the season almost always brings some surprises. One certainty in retail is that the shopper-first initiatives, those which focus on making it easy on the shopper to buy, will lead to success for retailers.

For more insight into holiday success, check out our complete guide to Holiday Readiness. Download today! You can also join us on September 26 for the premiere of our livestream holiday video series, Retail Reality Check, at 3pm ET on Facebook.