We can all take a breath now. Cyber Week is in the books and with it one-third of shopper’s total digital spend for the holiday season. This season did not disappoint. On retail’s biggest stage of the year, digital absolutely dominated, and shoppers went all-in on mobile. Here are the key takeaways from Cyber Week.

Shoppers Chose Their Own Adventure
Well before Cyber Week, retailers began to float their Black Friday promotions, and it appeared as though the shopping season had arrived early. Well, that was half-right. The season did start  earlier than last year, but it didn’t happen before Cyber Week, the change happened during Cyber Week. Shoppers began to show noticeably stronger buying signals on Wednesday and carried that growth right on through the weekend. For the second year in a row, Black Friday was the biggest digital shopping day of the season, beating Cyber Monday, The net of it? Shoppers decided when they were ready to shop – and this year the first sign of digital acceleration happened on Wednesday.

Mobile, For the Win! 
Mobile extended its status as the primary driver of traffic  — phones grabbed an astounding 61% of all visits across the week. The big news about mobile, though, is all about buying. On Thanksgiving day, for the first time ever, shoppers placed more orders on phones than on computers, capturing 46% of the purchases to computer’s 45%. Across the entire week, the momentum towards phones also brought computer orders to under 50% share for the first time ever. For retailers that are already ahead of the curve, it’s time to start thinking about what a mobile-only experience looks like. For those that are behind the curve, well, it’s time to step on the gas.

A Mixed Bag for Social
Undoubtedly, social’s influence on commerce is growing, with 7% of mobile traffic and 5% of total traffic to retail sites coming from a social platform. And while there’s no question that social media is a digital matchmaker – driving net new shoppers to retail sites – those visits are not turning into as many orders. Social’s contribution to order share nudged up only slightly to 2% overall. To make the most of investments in social media, retailers should look to connect that new social traffic with other marketing channels to cultivate the shopper during the season. The influence of social, married with the productivity of email, can make for quite the digital marketing power couple.

The Case for Relevance 
While personalization may not be synonymous with the holiday shopping season (when many of us are shopping for someone other than ourselves) its impact is quite impressive. Over the course of the week, 5% of shoppers engaged (clicked or tapped) on personalized product recommendations, and those shoppers contributed 30% of the revenue from the week. That’s the beauty of real-time personalization, which tracks browsing activity to present shoppers with relevant product recommendations. The takeaway for retailers? AI-based personalization is quickly becoming a cornerstone, and a real growth-driver, of digital commerce.

With Cyber Week behind us, what can you expect for the rest of the season? Here’s a brief look:

  • Less than half of digital spending for the season remains – we crossed the expected midway point on December 3rd.
  • Discount rates will recede swiftly and dramatically. Over the past few years, discount rates after Cyber Week look much more like a non-peak season.
  • Click and collect will have its time to shine. Once those free shipping deadlines begin to expire, shoppers will seek alternate options, and with shopper interest in click and collect higher than ever, look to this fast-emerging vorite omnichannel tactic to incentivize shoppers to make near-last minute digital purchases – with the extra bonus of driving footfall into stores.
  • Remember, this year includes one extra day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That will be the case next year too. But beware, in 2019 the season contracts by nearly a full week due to the late Thanksgiving. Here’s a way-too-early prediction: the weekend prior to Black Friday will take a giant leap in 2019, leading to an even further-diminished Cyber Monday.

Here’s the analysis of digital commerce activity during Cyber Week (Tuesday November 21 through Monday, November 27):

Metric Value Change From Last Year
Revenue Growth 26% Up from 20%
Traffic Growth 19% Up from 13%
Mobile Traffic Share 61% Up from 54%
Mobile Order Share 41% Up from 34%
Social Traffic Share 5.2% Up from 4.2%
Average Order Value $118 Down from $120
Discount Rate 28% Up from 27%
Free Shipping 84% Up from 83%
% of Shoppers That Engaged with AI-Powered Product Recommendations 5% New metric
% of Revenue Driven by AI-Powered Product Recommendations 30% New metric

Want to hear more? In the most recent episode of Retail Reality Check, we cover some of the inside stories of this Cyber Week. Wondering what else to expect this season? Here’s my take. And for a more granular look at how personalization impacts the online shopping experience, including key customer stories, check out our new report, Personalization in Shopping.