“O come all e-faithful!” – UK shoppers turn to digital and mobile shopping as Christmas approaches

“O come all e-faithful!” – UK shoppers turn to digital and mobile shopping as Christmas approaches
  • Wunderman Thompson Commerce identifies a Black Friday-style upsurge in mobile orders this Christmas, with on average a 26% rise in mobile traffic compared to 2015
  • Over half (53%) say technology has made the shopping process “easier and more convenient”
  • New dawn of online shopping approaches; 57% of UK consumers said they will be ready for Programmatic Commerce (automated purchasing) within two year

London, UK. Monday 19th December 2016. Are we seeing the first year when children will be sending emails to Father Christmas instead of letters? Perhaps not, but as the Christmas shopping season gets into full swing, consumers are turning ever more towards a digital future to solve their festive shopping needs. UK consumers are now digitally shopping on average nine times a week and this is expected to rise over the Christmas period. What’s more, consumers are increasingly embracing the convenience of mobile shopping to fit gift-giving into their busy Yule schedules.

In the run up to Christmas, global ecommerce consultancy Wunderman Thompson Commerce has seen a bigger shift towards mobile traffic and orders. Since Black Friday, devices have led the way in online retail traffic, with 53% coming through mobile alone and 68% coming through mobile and tablets combined. Overall, there has been a 26% rise in average mobile traffic since 2015. [1] This mirrors the tipping point of mobile as seen during this year’s Black Friday period where 68% of traffic and 51.2% of orders were made on mobile and tablets – the first year where mobile overtook desktop in orders. Last year, the Christmas period saw a 12% growth on 2014 in online orders overall.[2]

Wunderman Thompson Commerce research also shows that over half (53%) say the biggest improvement technology has brought to their shopping experience is that it has made the shopping process “easier and more convenient”, with over eight million people (16% the UK population) using digital tech every day to shop.[3] Half of those surveyed (49%) say technology – incorporating online, mobile and click & collect – has “made the shopping process faster”, as consumers turn to convenience to get their goods either at home or on-the-go. A further 41% say they are now able to shop from stores they can’t visit in person.

Neil Stewart, CEO of Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “As consumers turn more towards digital solutions to satiate their shopping needs and wants, we fully expect online orders – including mobile – to continue to increase over the festive period. We predicted correctly that this would be the first year where mobile overtook desktop during the ‘Black Fiveday’ period and we’re already seeing the same thing happening at Christmas this year. International orders are even expected to rise just like during the Black Friday period, when consumers took advantage of the weak pound.

“What’s clear for UK shoppers, though, is that they crave convenience and efficiency above all else. For Christmas, shopping online and through mobile especially is a time-saver and means that families can spend more time with each other instead of navigating the busy high street. Retailers must ensure they have strong back-end systems and a fluid supply chain in the run-up to the festive period to cope with the demanding holiday period.”

Nearly 1 in 5 men (18%) use online shopping in some form or another every day compared to 16% of women. However, women say shopping digitally allows them to find better bargains, with 37% being able to find more cost efficient and better deals, compared to 32% of men.

As consumers embrace the advantages of digital shopping trolleys, the majority of consumers are now thinking ahead of the curve in terms of how they want to order their goods. 57% of UK consumers said they will be ready for Programmatic Commerce in the next two years. This idea centres on smart, connected devices making automatic purchases, such as fridges ordering milk or juice when sensors show they’re running low.


[1] This covers the period of 25 November to 11 December 2016.


[3] UK study of 2,000 UK consumers aged 18-64 on attitudes towards digital shopping commissioned by Wunderman Thompson Commerce and carried out by independent research consultancy, Censuswide, July 2016.