Online holiday sales beat estimates: What it means for you

Normally, it’s not a good thing when your financial prediction is off by about $1 billion; that’s how much Adobe Analytics’ holiday online shopping spend prediction missed the mark for the 2017 holiday shopping season.

But in this case, Adobe’s miscue is online sellers’ windfall because actual online receipts outpaced Adobe’s estimate by almost $1 billion. In early November, Adobe predicted online sales of $107.4 billion; the actual figure hit $108.2 billion.

Perhaps the most important figure in Adobe’s final analysis is that 52 percent of the holiday online traffic to retail websites came via mobile devices! Although we don’t know the exact nature of the mobile devices, I suspect tablet use is becoming an increasingly big share of what we classify as “mobile traffic.” If your observations are anything like mine, you are seeing more and more users rely on their tablets as a primary gateway to the online world. And, of course, we know that smartphones continue to be our constant companions.

The lesson here is one we started to stress a couple of years ago: design your website for mobile first! Be sure that your site performs on smartphones; if it looks good on a smartphone, it will be fine on a tablet. Further, if you’re depending on a plugin or even a responsive template to automatically make your legacy site “mobile friendly,” double check your type faces, colors, and site structure to make sure they work on a small screen.

Have friends and family members put your mobile site through its paces. If you are in a retail industry, can your customers do everything they might want to do via your mobile device? Can they easily accomplish these things or do they have to navigate multiple pages?

I believe that one of the reasons mobile holiday online traffic outpaced legacy computer traffic is that many retailers are finally taking the move to mobile seriously. However, I also believe that we still have a lot of store and restaurant owners who are dragging their feet.

Tip: If you own a restaurant, connect your website to some of the third-party services that provide home delivery and reservation services.

If you don’t embrace the move to multi-channel sales, you will soon be left in the virtual dust as your competitors optimize their online presence.