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John Squire, IBM Director of Digital Marketing & AnalyticsJohn Squire is IBM’s director of Digital Marketing and Analytics

 What do Valentine’s Day and the December Holidays have in common? If you look past gifts, romance and loved ones the answer may surprise you: mobile shopping

I have spent a great deal of time over the last two months dissecting the influence of the empowered consumer. Throughout that time, the conversation has focused primarily on the emergence of the mobile shopper.

Now just more than six weeks into the new year, I am thrilled to report that mobile shopping remains a staple of the retail landscape whether through an iPhone, iPad or an Android device. Specifically in an analysis of online shopping the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, the IBM online Benchmark study found that 14.5 percent of all online sessions on a retailer’s site were initiated from a mobile device. As for sales, 10.1 percent of all online sales for the week before the Valentine’s Day holiday came through a mobile device.

Sound familiar? Well it should. These figures for both traffic and sales are almost identical to what we saw over the recent Christmas holiday where traffic and sales were 14.6 percent and 11 percent respectively. What this tells us is that the mobile shopping habits witnessed over the November and December holidays are not fleeting. They’re actually quite the opposite. A permanent change is in affect with the empowered consumer turning to mobile devices not just for blockbuster shopping days but for all holidays and shopping occasions in between.

For Valentine’s Day, the influence of m-Commerce was perhaps most prevalent in several key verticals where mobile sales from mobile devices were up dramatically from last year:

  • Jewelry and Intimate Apparel: A record number of consumers made impulse buys via their mobile devices with mobile sales of jewelry and intimate apparel growing to 28.8 percent and 17.7 percent respectively.
  • Health and Beauty: Shoppers continued to demonstrate a desire to pamper their loved ones with mobile sales of health and beauty items (lotions, fragrances and more) growing to 15.1 percent, an increase from less than 4 percent in 2011.

Valentine’s shoppers also showed a similar pattern when it came to device preferences:

  • Apple’s iPhone and iPad ranked one and two for mobile device retail traffic (5.5 percent and 4.9 percent respectively). Android was third at 4.4 percent. Collectively iPhone and iPad accounted for 10.4 percent of mobile device retail traffic so far this month.

It’s exciting to see the promise of mobile remains strong and I cannot wait to see how it continues to influence both shoppers and retailers as we move forward.  As for now it’s safe to say that Valentine’s Day shopping has evolved from the standard box of chocolates.

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