Mobile traffic is always an important part of the holiday strategy. In fact, Salesforce reported 55% of Cyber Week sales came from mobile devices in 2019, while Shopify reported mobile accounted for 69% of platform sales over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) period last year.

As holiday season 2020 approaches, many are wondering how will this season be different from years past? A Prime Day that might fall in October, November’s election and Apple’s iOS 14 launch are all unique variables this season. Nothing has added an extra layer of uncertainty more than Covid-19 though. We aggregated data across 15 e-commerce clients’ Google Analytics to evaluate how Covid-19 might impact mobile traffic these holidays.

What We’re Seeing: Mobile Traffic Share

Mobile has continually seen a higher percentage of traffic share over the years. However, that traffic share growth has slowed in recent years. According to a Broadband Search study, mobile’s traffic share grew 7-11 percentage points each year since 2013, but only increased 1.9 percentage points and 1.1 percentage points in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

However, that’s before 2020 happened. We now expect that mobile traffic share will grow at a much higher rate this year, based on our client data. Starting in March 2020, our sample set’s mobile traffic share has seen an average increase of 3.93 percentage points year over year. That’s almost four times higher than overall traffic share growth mobile experienced in 2019.

We have also seen period-over-period growth in our sample set as well but to a smaller degree. Comparing June-July to January-February, our sample set saw mobile traffic share grow by 0.85 percentage points on average. This signals that Covid-19, at least in part, is driving more people to mobile devices as opposed to desktop/tablets than we have seen the last two years.

When doing holiday projections, you should always account for standard growth due to more users shopping online each year. This year that will be particularly true due to Covid-19. Given the shift of traffic to mobile devices we have seen, you may want to account for more mobile traffic growth than normal this holiday season.

What We’re Seeing: Mobile Conversion Rate

Mobile has increasingly played a role in “window shopping” during the holidays. According to Adobe, in 2019 smartphones drove 36% of online sales for retailers over the holiday period, but drove 58% of the traffic.

Yet, we’ve also seen mobile users exhibiting a greater purchase intent than in years past since Covid-19. Our sample set of clients had an average transaction rate of 1.69% from March – July last year. In 2020, the same clients saw a transaction rate of 2.91% during the same period. That trend holds up looking period over period as well. June – July 2020 mobile transaction rate improved to 2.52% from 1.68% in January – February 2020, prior to the broad pandemic impact to buyer behavior experienced in March. There may be several reasons users are converting at a better rate in 2020.

Covid-19 has led to many brick-and-mortar store closures, including brands such as Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, J. Crew and more declaring bankruptcy. Shuttering locations means fewer stores to shop in person. For stores still open, fewer people are visiting in-person due to Covid-19. Plus, an estimated 42% of Americans are working from home according to a June Stanford University study, which could be resulting in more users shopping from their personal mobile devices as opposed to work desktops. According to App Annie, in April, users spent 20% more average hours per day on their mobile device than in April 2019. All of these may be altering mobile users’ intent from browsing to purchasing.

Since purchase intent of mobile users appears to be higher since Covid-19, it’s really never been more important to ensure your mobile experience is optimized for it. You can put your mobile checkout in a better position to capture holiday sales by addressing these the below UX factors now.

  • Improve mobile page speed
  • Implement checkout as guest option (if you do not have one)
  • Include multiple payment options: Alternative payments like PayPal and Apple Pay have seen explosive growth in adoption since the pandemic began, and pay-later options like Klarna were already growing in popularity even before the pandemic
  • During checkout, use numeric keyboard rather than alphabet keyboard for numeric fields like credit card, phone number, zip code, etc.

What We’re Seeing: Mobile Transactions

What does higher mobile conversion rates coupled with a rise in mobile traffic share mean exactly? More holiday mobile transactions. Our sample set saw a 106.5% increase in transactions year over year from March-July and an 87% boost in mobile revenue. Comparing June-July to January-February, they drove 118% more transactions and 119% more revenue.

Other Thoughts: App Transactions

If you have an app, you should prepare for even more traffic this holiday season than initially expected. According to App Annie, weekly sessions in shopping apps are up 25% since Q1 2020 and mobile shopping during Covid-19 has already surpassed 2019’s holiday levels. Then, in Q2, consumer spend in apps grew another 45% during lockdown.

There is evidence that mobile users, and especially app users, “window shop” earlier than the traditional holiday period. The mobile technology platform Button found that users who downloaded a retail app in the last two weeks of October represented 18% of overall holiday shopping during the holiday period. Given users are already spending more in apps since Covid-19, and app users shop earlier for the holidays, advertisers should have their app optimized going into Q4.

Some things to do to optimize your app

  • Simplify the purchase process by reducing the number of taps required to purchase – Button estimated a it takes an average of 104 taps for a user to complete a purchase
  • Make sure your app is updated to the most recent iOS and Android versions
  • Run app advertising – in 2019 the number of paid ad installs grew 25% YoY
  • Use historical data from previous holiday seasons to proactively identify ad efforts driving purchases


Despite years of calling for the “Year of Mobile” in holiday shopping, no previous year has presented more of a case than 2020, and both customer experience and mobile advertising should be in your plans this holiday season. Contact us if you need help with your mobile strategy.