Corporate Eye

Mobile Dominates During the Fourth Quarter of 2013

iphone mobile shopping appsFor business, marketing, and ecommerce during the fourth quarter of 2013, one thing dominated—mobile. Whether you look at retail site traffic, email opens, or digital transactions, mobile either took the top spot or gained significant ground during the final months of the year, particularly during the holiday retail season.

Research from a variety of sources shows us that mobile is becoming more important before, during, and after the purchase cycle than ever. Let’s take a closer look at a few of those research reports for the details.

Mobile Sales and Shopping

According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, mobile traffic accounted for nearly 35% of all online traffic during the fourth quarter of 2013, which is 40% higher than what was recorded during the same period a year ago. Similarly, mobile sales jumped by 40% over the same period a year earlier and accounted for 16.6% of all online sales during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Overall, IBM found that certain retail subcategories saw even higher increases in mobile sales. Year-over-year, mobile sales increased by 49.6% for department stores, 81.7% for health and beauty, 54.5% for apparel, and 38% for home goods.

Looking at devices, IBM found that tablet users are more likely to complete a purchase using their devices than smartphone users, and they’re likely to spend more money per order ($118.09) than smartphone users ($104.72). An even bigger gap is found between iOS and Android device users. IBM found that iOS users accounted for 12.7% of total online sales compared to just 2.9% for Android users (despite the much larger Android market share in the United States), and iOS users spent more per order ($115.42) than Android users ($83.56).

IBM also looked specifically at mobile and online shopping in the United States on Christmas Day and in the United Kingdom on Boxing Day. On Christmas Day, mobile traffic accounted for 48% of all online traffic (up from 28% on the same day in 2012) with mobile sales hitting nearly 29% of all online sales (up 40% over the same day in 2012). On Boxing Day, mobile traffic accounted for 58% of all online traffic, which is an increase of 42% over the same day in 2012). Mobile sales accounted for more than 45% of all online sales (up 63% from the same day in 2012). On both Christmas Day and Boxing Day, smartphones drove a greater percentage of online traffic than tablets, but tablets accounted for more online sales. Similarly, iOS outperformed Android in mobile traffic, mobile sales, and average spending per order in both countries.

Mobile Email Marketing

In a separate study of 1.3 billion opened emails by Return Path, it was reported that 51% of email opens happened through a mobile device during the 2013 holiday season. The percentage peaked on Christmas Day with 62% of emails opened that day on mobile devices. In fact, during the 2013 holiday season, Return Path did not find a single day when mobile didn’t take the top spot above both desktop and webmail for opens.

Return Path created the infographic below to visually explain some of the highlights from its study.


One thing is certain—mobile matters. In fact, mobile more than matters. Mobile is mission critical.

Follow the links above to view all of the details from the studies referenced in this article.

Image: Jason Howie

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.