With the staggering mobile growth that had been witnessed throughout 2013, it was widely predicted that consumers would turn to their mobile devices over the Christmas period.

John Lewis made a bold prediction pre-Christmas that it would see its share of mobile traffic exceed desktop for the first time on Christmas Day and they subsequently reported that these expectations were exceeded, with two thirds of traffic originating from a mobile device.

John Lewis was not the only advertiser that witnessed exceptional mobile performance, with a number of leading retailers also reporting on their mobile activity over the festive period.

Working with in excess of 1400 advertisers across our network, including many of the leading brands in the UK, it has been possible to take a look at mobile performance from an affiliate channel perspective.

There were certainly some interesting stats to be pulled from the data. Mobile traffic across the network peaked at 39.35% of traffic on Boxing Day with 17.61% of originating from smartphones.

This was slightly higher than Christmas Day, which saw 37.33% of traffic generated through a mobile device with 17.24% through smartphones. 

Mobile sales also peaked on Boxing Day with 33.54% of transactions taking place on a mobile device while Christmas Day was again slightly behind with 33.19%.

Sales over this period were predominately driven by tablet devices although smartphones saw some impressive figures with 10.33% and 9.36% of sales originating from a smartphone on Christmas Day and Boxing Day respectively.

In addition to strong performance in terms of sales volumes, average order values were also impressive. Smartphone AOV peaked on Christmas Day at £77.77 while tablet and desktop AOV peaked a day later at £89.99 and £89.46 respectively on Boxing Day. 

One of our large retailers saw a staggering 55.54% of sales originating from a mobile device on Christmas Day with an impressive 25% through smartphones.

By developing its mobile strategy and ensuring coverage across key publisher’s mobile sites, they were well placed to take advantage of consumers turning to their mobile devices over the Christmas period. 

Strong mobile performance has continued into the New Year. On New Year’s Day, 39.05% of traffic originated from a mobile device coupled with 32.81% of sales.

While there hasn’t been an individual day that has outperformed Christmas Day/Boxing day, the share of mobile traffic in January is set to outstrip December’s performance. 

Typically mobile activity accelerates at weekends and this has increased further so far this year with around 30% of sales originating from a mobile device each weekend. Additionally, it has been possible to understand the device types that are accounting for this increase in activity.

This is dominated by the Apple devices with the iPhone typically enjoying a 65% share of smartphone traffic. It is even more dominant when it comes to sales with around 70% of sales originating from an iPhone.

Looking at tablet devices it is evident that iPad users are more inclined to purchase than their Android counterparts. Despite being responsible for around 25% of tablet traffic, Android devices only account for around 15% of tablet sales. While Android users are browsing, the conversion rate is some way behind the iPad.

As well as being more likely to purchase, Apple users are also spending more with each transaction. iPhone AOV is typically £10 higher than Android handsets while for tablet this is even more stark with iPad users typically spending around £20 more for each transaction.

Mobile commerce experienced exceptional growth in 2013 and it is set to continue this year. With more advertisers launching mobile optimised versions of their sites and publishers enhancing their mobile offering, it will be interesting to see how this develops over the next 12 months.

The full breakdown of December’s statistics including information by device can be found here. 

Matt Swan

Published 24 January, 2014 by Matt Swan

Matt Swan is Client Strategist at Affiliate Window and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (2)


Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Data, Insight & Analytics at Eurostar International Ltd.

Really interesting article Matt

Do you have a breakdown of how this shift is effecting different markets?

Just curious as I know that from our perspective, while we're seeing (and encouraging) extensive usage on mobile (smartphone) devices, the conversion rates on these are still so low that they only make up a tiny fraction of sales whereas Tablets are moving closer and closer to being in line with Desktop conversion rates every day.

As a result, it would be good to understand by category what the breakdown of traffic is in terms of percentages versus sales as I can imagine for small items or with retailers that users visit regularly, mobile purchases are probably not that foreign but for a £1,000 holiday or a £10,000 car I would imagine is much less likely...

over 4 years ago

Matt Swan

Matt Swan, Head of Business Intelligence at Affiliate Window

Hi Matt,

As you say, we typically see a higher split of sales for those items that are smaller or sites that are visited regularly.

For example, we see group buying sites over index massively both in terms of traffic and transactions through smartphones. It is not uncommon to see smartphone traffic at around 30% and with extremely strong conversion rates we see the same share in terms of sales.

Again in a retail environment it is not surprising to see a higher percentage of sales through mobile devices. This can vary greatly based on how well the site is optimised. For a well optimised site complete with affiliate tracking we see around 5-10% of sales through smartphones. In terms of traffic this varies quite a bit based on the advertiser but 15-20% is not uncommon. We also see some fairly high order values (but nowhere near the cost of a holiday/car!)

Tablet is still dominating across most sectors with conversion rates more in line with desktops and average order values significantly higher.

For similar travel sites to yourselves, we are seeing a reasonable share of traffic through smartphones (around 10-12%) but the share of sales are a lot lower at around 2%. I think this is down to it being a more considered purchase that consumers are happy to research on smartphones but are more comfortable purchasing on tablets/desktops – whether this is due to more confidence in spending higher amounts through these devices or the customer journey is just a bit too fiddly to complete on a smartphone.

I'd hope to see these figures pick up considerably over this year though as mobile offerings improve to reflect the switch in consumers turning more readily to mobile devices.

over 4 years ago

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