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Record number of mobile visits to retail sites expected this holiday

This holiday is poised to be the first mobile-dominant season for retailers and marketers need to be ready.

A growing number of Americans are turning to their smartphones and tablets as their primary device for accessing the Internet. In fact, one-third of all U.S. adults (33.7 percent) say they access the Internet more often through a mobile device than through a computer, up from 24 percent in 2013. Furthermore, Millennials are the first generation to be mobile dominant, with 53 percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 reporting that they use their phone more often than a computer to go online.

Considering that trend, it’s no surprise that when pulling data for our Holiday Hot Sheet series, we found that 35 percent of all Website visits came from smartphones or digital tablets during the week ending October 17, 2015. Shopping and Classified Websites, however, received an even greater share of visits from mobile devices that week, 44 percent to be exact. And some shopping sub-industries got a majority of traffic from mobile. Those included: Intimate Apparel and Accessories, which currently gets 55 percent of visits from mobile, Baby Products (55 percent), Health and Beauty (54 percent) and Ticketing (51 percent).

Given the tendency of shopping sites to get an above average share of visits from mobile devices during the winter holidays, we predict that other shopping categories will break the 50 percent mark in the months ahead. For instance, during the 2014 holiday season, Apparel and Accessories sites saw a 32 percent jump in the share of their traffic coming from mobile devices between mid-October and the week of Christmas. If Apparel and Accessories sites see a similar boost in the months ahead, they’ll be getting 64 percent of their visits from mobile devices by Christmas.

Mobile share of search

With consumers increasingly able (and willing) to access the Internet on the go, marketers also need to keep in mind that a growing share of mobile searches will be occurring when consumers are potentially in or near a store.

Our data shows that 49.6 million adults (32 percent of U.S. smartphone owners) say they “often” use their phone while shopping to find local deals. That’s up from 34.1 million adults (28 percent of smartphone owners) in 2013. And in fact, searches that include phrases like “near me” or “nearby,” which are especially likely to be used by consumers in such instances, increased 1.8 times during the past year alone.

While generic keywords like “restaurants,” “food” and “stores” are the most likely to appear in searches including “nearby” or “near me,” those including the word “sale” increased their search share by 56 percent during the last year. Branded keywords, too, are making up an increasing share of such searches as consumers seek out the nearest location of a specific store. For instance, the share of nearby-related searches including the word “Walmart” doubled in the last year and those including “CVS” nearly tripled.

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With busy holiday shoppers making trips all over town, marketers should be sure that their search campaigns are optimized for the mobile device. Providing quick links in paid search ads to phone numbers, directions, store hours, etc. can mean the difference between getting a shopper through the door and letting them drive right by.

For more mobile insights to help your holiday campaigns, get our latest Holiday Hot Sheet. It includes data on “showrooming,” as well as highlights from our mobile shopping analysis of 20 retail brands using SMS messaging this season.

And for tips on building a mobile strategy, register for our webinar with MarketingProfs, Mobile warming: Innovative strategies for mobile engagement.

Get the Holiday Hot Sheets!