Still think you can ignore that whole mobile commerce thing, huh? Well, if the 2014 holiday season was any indication of the power of the smartphone shopping experience, you can’t afford putting off your digital expansion any longer.

A report from IBM Digital Analytics detailing metrics from the 2014 holiday shopping season showed a massive surge in sales and traffic from mobile devices – and if consumers are confident enough to use this channel when purchases are more time-sensitive and emotionally-important than ever, you can imagine how likely they are to continue to use it.

Here’s a breakdown of the report’s key findings and tips for how you can capitalize on this information throughout the year.

Shoppers Love Their Smartphones

When it comes to connecting with US shoppers, you can’t ignore mobile optimization. Mobile traffic soared among American shoppers during the 2014 holiday season. Mobile traffic surpassing desktop for the first time ever during Thanksgiving. This trend continued in the weekends that followed, right up to Christmas week. Mobile metrics for the months of November and December indicate that:

  • Mobile contributed almost 23% of all online sales (a 27% increase compared to the 2013 holiday season)
  • Mobile traffic accounted for almost half (45%) of all online traffic.

Cyber Monday 2014 in particular indicated a mobile surge.

  • Mobile accounted for 41.2% of all traffic, a 30% increase from 2013
  • Smartphones were highly preferred over tablets, driving close to 30% (28.5%) of all online traffic
  • Mobile sales accounted for 22% of total online sales
  • Average spends on tablets: $122; $99.61 for smartphones.

What does this mean? In the case of Cyber Monday, many shoppers likely use their mobiles to shop while on the clock to avoid employers’ tracking their online behavior!

So, if you’re going to send emails or set up PPC ads for mobile, targeting the 8 am to 5 pm crows during their workday is more effective on mobile than desktop. Also, recent studies into mobile behavior indicate that social media is a top use for mobile, so consider sponsoring posts and ads on Twitter and Facebook – then use segmenting to direct mobile-only users specifically to mobile-optimized pages.

Research by Phone, Purchase by Desktop

While mobile traffic has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, desktops remained the preferred mode of making a purchase. Compared to tablets and smartphones,, desktops outperformed in terms of sales, conversion rates and bounce rates for the November-December period. Between tablets and mobile phones, tablets were used more for buying than smartphones.

Clearly, this points to a trend: mobile for browsing and research (often when in-store!) and desktops and tablets for checkout and completing purchases. Since larger screen size seems to matter to consumers, it’s never been more important to have a fully-optimized mobile site that directs smartphone users to a sleeker, less-cluttered interface than your ecommerce site.

What does this mean? Make your mobile site easier to browse via fewer menu options, an easy-to-find search bar, and search results pages that clearly display info that customers want quickly: pictures, short (try 10-15 words) product descriptions, and price! You can also create a mobile app that’s perfectly designed to elicit quick purchases and a consistent user experience every time a customer shops, then promote it via the methods above to help bridge the gap between screen sizes.

iOS Trumps Android

Another key takeaway was the obvious difference in the iOS vs Android debate. Apple devices stood ahead of their Android counterparts in almost all key metrics, particularly in terms of sales percentages:

  • iOS traffic accounted for 28.7 percent of total online traffic, while Android traffic was less than half at 12%.
  • iOS sales accounted for 17.4 percent of total online sales, 4 times more than Android sales, which were just 4.4% of all online sales.
  • iOS spends averaged $114.79 per order compared to $96.84 for Android users.
  • In the US, Apple devices accounted for more than three and a half times the sales of Android smartphones and tablets.

What did we learn here?

Well, first, if you’re considering developing a mobile app, make sure it’s available on both marketplaces – and if you can only develop one, make it Apple! And of course, if you deal in digital products, it only makes sense to offer it on iTunes. The iPhone user community is a strong and loyal one, so their ability to bond with a brand is already obvious – take advantage of it! Target iOS users in specific social campaigns and paid ads via segmenting, then work to develop an emotional relationship with them like they have with Apple. Also, since iOS sends more sales your way, it’s important to ensure that your mobile sites are perfectly optimized for the screen sizes of iPhones and iPads and look great in the Safari browser, too.