Christmas might seem like a distant memory now, but as we’ve seen from the recent troubles at Comet, HMV and Blockbuster, having a good Christmas can be the difference between success and failure for a retailer.

But what’s coming to light from our search data is how Christmas Day itself is becoming critically important for online retailers.

We have seen a steady growth in e-retail on Christmas Day and Boxing Day over the last five years or so, and now with the proliferation of tablets and other smart devices we’re seeing the growth increase even further.

According to figures from our retail customers, nearly half of the traffic (46%) they experienced on Christmas Day, came from mobile devices.

Interestingly, traffic via mobile on the 25th actually exceeded that of an average shopping day in December. If you take December 1st as a comparison, retailers saw 44% more traffic from tablets and 25% more traffic from smartphones on Christmas Day.

Comparing Christmas Eve to Christmas Day retailers saw a 40% increase in tablet traffic, and a 14% increase from a smartphone.

2012 was undoubtedly the year of the tablet with the launch of several high quality, and more importantly, competitively priced devices, such as the iPad Mini, Kindle Fire and Google Nexus. As online retailers start their sales on Christmas Day, consumers are reaching for (and perhaps unwrapping first) their tablets and mobile devices to go online.

Cost-per-click (CPC) comparisons with desktop traffic are reflecting this – an average click on a tablet has risen to 90% of the rate of desktop; on mobile it’s 65%.

Tablet and mobile click through rates (CTR) are significantly higher than desktop and really spiked after Christmas.

So if you’re not already, make sure you’re customising your paid search campaigns correctly to take advantage:

  • Non-desktop is becoming a huge portion of searches. Create separate desktop, mobile/smartphone and tablet campaigns to take advantage of the different dynamics of each.
  • Ensure you are bidding each device individually. As above, they are very different bid landscapes and need to be treated as such.
  • Use analytics to measure cross platform effects. You can then assess ROI from the various devices.
  • Make sure your website is optimised to work on all platforms. Assuming most people will view your website on a PC doesn’t cut it anymore. Consumers expect to be able to shop, browse, research, engage with brands via smartphones, tablets, even their TVs.

The shopping behaviour of customers will inevitably evolve alongside the developments in consumer technology. As mobile and tablet devices become increasingly ubiquitous, retailers have an opportunity to source detailed analytical data that can be used to inform search as well as wider business strategies.

Special thanks to Rich Garrod, one of Adobe’s talented business analysts, for extracting these great insights from our data.