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Mobile Drove $33 Billion in Holiday Sales

It’s no secret, but mobile devices will soon run our lives.

According to a recently released report from app analytics and market data firm App Annie, the average user spent about three hours and 40 minutes on their smartphone each day in 2019. That’s up by more than a third (35 percent) from just two years prior.

While stateside mobile addiction rates are nothing to scoff at, emerging markets like Indonesia, Brazil and India are spending the most time on mobile each day, analysts said.

American users increased their scrolling habits by 20 percent since 2017, and Chinese users became 60 percent more active during the two-year period.

France, India and Canada also saw strong growth, with the average mobile device owner spending a quarter (25 percent) more time on their phone in 2019 than they did two years before.

While much of this growth is attributable to apps for gaming, fintech, IoT devices, fitness and entertainment, downloads for global shopping apps increased by 20 percent year over year from 2018 to 2019, totaling more than 5.4 billion.

More companies are adopting mobile platforms and experiences for their shoppers to tout new retail personalization features and services.

“Mobile is a critical avenue for omnichannel growth,” App Annie’s analysts said. “It’s not just about converting through the mobile app, it’s about mobile driving research and consideration, and facilitating fulfillment—such as through in-store pickup and tracking of packages.”

Savvy brick-and-mortar retailers have been making moves to engage shoppers at their fingertips with some of these strategies in mind. Mobile will prove central to growing retail businesses in 2020, analysts said—for both digitally native brands and physical stores.

In Q3 of 2019, athletic titan Nike’s digital business grew by 42 percent, a phenomenon driven primarily by mobile shopping and app usage.

The company has prioritized innovative new app features that enhance the in-store shopping experience. App users are able to reserve Nike products in store, and utilize foot scanning technology that presents them with their best-fitting shoe size from the privacy of their own homes.

Features like this save consumers time, providing convenient shortcuts for actions that would normally need to be taken in store.

With many brands optimizing their mobile sites and building better apps, consumers are turning to their mobile devices more than ever before, analysts said.

The prime example during 2019 was Alibaba’s famed Singles Day, when shoppers spent $38.4 billion globally. Those sales were driven mostly by mobile traffic, analysts said.

Alibaba Group’s IPO was also the largest of the year ($167.6 billion), as the conglomerate featured mobile as a core focus for its business moving forward into the new decade.

The holiday season was, predictably, a massive driver of mobile sales last year.

On the whole, shoppers spent roughly 2.5 billion hours globally shopping on Android phones during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the two weeks following the shopping holidays. That’s a 40 percent annual increase from 2018.

During the period between Nov. 1 and Dec. 2, holiday shoppers spent $33.1 billion on mobile, representing 40 percent of all online sales for frame.

“Mobile is the central nervous system of our connected lives,” analysts wrote. “The new decade ushers in the next phase of mobile, with smartphones serving as the primary interface through which we interact with the world around us.”

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