Our latest Shopping Index, which analyzed the global shopping activity of more than 500 million shoppers in the fourth quarter, is by far our most comprehensive, providing an unparalleled analysis of digital consumer behavior. What’s different? We provide data on visit duration, order share, traffic share, average order value, free shipping, discount rate, search usage, product assortment growth, and buying intent – all broken down by device type, geography and retail vertical. And because the apparel sector is so large and fragmented, we break it down further to luxury, general and active apparel.

Here’s how the fourth quarter, the most important for most retailers and brands, unfolded.

Bolstered by a strong Christmas Holiday shopping season, digital commerce delivered once again, with 19% year-over-year growth.

The growth itself may not be particularly surprising, but the source of the growth is. With 11% more traffic and an 8% spike in shopper spend, this was the most balanced growth we have seen over the past three years. Another perspective on this growth is the contrast of old and new sources of growth. In the fourth quarter, social media emerged as a meaningful traffic-driving channel; driving 5% of mobile traffic, up 61% over last year.

We can unequivocally say that mobile-first shopping is here. Mobile accounted for 52% of all traffic but more importantly, mobile buying indicators are pointing up too, as shoppers expressed more buying intent on phones, leading to increased mobile conversion. On top of this momentum, consumers and retailers are eager to embrace mobile wallets like the much anticipated release of Apple Pay for mobile web. Mobile wallets promise to reduce friction in mobile shopping and increase conversion to compound mobile gains.

At the same time, tried and true shopping tools like on-site search continue to contribute meaningfully to growth. Shoppers engaging with site search contribute 18% and 25% of revenue to brand and retail sites respectively. Beyond this reliable revenue contribution, retailers should increase investments geared to innovations in site search, including leveraging artificial intelligence, which enhances product findability. Chat bots may garner more attention these days, but site search is a proven tool upon which shoppers continue to rely.

This latest Shopping Index uncovers the true story of shopping activity of more than 500 million shoppers across the globe, including a battery of the most crucial digital commerce KPIs –  some of which are exclusive to the Shopping Index. Importantly, we reveal how these metrics have trended over the past nine quarters. The data is global, with focus on five key markets: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany and France. This rich data in granular segments provide a view into the current state of digital commerce. I encourage you to review the Shopping Index and see how you stack up against this digital benchmark.