Online and Mobile Buying Trends Continue to Rise in First-Quarter, Reports IBM

Mobile Commerce Nearly Doubles to 13.3 Percent of Online Retail Sales
Rising Consumer Sentiment Driven By Improving Online Experience

ARMONK, N.Y. - 02 May 2012: The U.S. retail industry saw continued growth in online and mobile buying trends in the first-quarter, driven by today's rising digital consumer marketplace. According to the IBM (NYSE: IBM) retail online economic indicator, a cloud-based analytics report which examines the state of the online retail sector, mobile commerce grew to more than 13 percent, while online buying grew more than 6 percent in March 2012. 

Quarterly Economic Indicator Graph

The State of Digital Consumer Buying Infographic

This report follows recent news from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau which announced its estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for the first-quarter 2012. According to the findings, retail sales increased by 0.8 percent in March compared to February and sales for the month were up 6.5 percent compared to the same time last year. Total sales for the first quarter of 2012 were up 6.4 percent from the same period a year ago.

IBM's retail online economic indicator identified several trends of importance to chief marketing officers, ecommerce leaders and customer service professionals. The most notable development over this first-quarter period was the continued growth of mobile commerce sales which accounted for 13.3 percent of online retail sales, double the number seen in the same time-frame the previous year.  

In addition to sales, the economic indicator identified an increase in positive consumer sentiment around key attributes of a successful digital buying experience. The indicator found consumers are increasingly optimistic when it comes to convenience, experience and overall value, each up from this same period last year, based on their online shopping experience.  Businesses are also increasingly looking to analyze social media such as Facebook and Twitter to assess the way their customers view them.

Part of IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative, the retail online economic indicator draws data and insights from IBM's big data offerings to provide the industry's most comprehensive look into the pulse of online retail through traditional and social media channels.  The indicator analysis for first-quarter 2012 reveals the following trends:

Online Retail Sales for Q1 2012 versus Q1 2011

  • Mobile Devices: Apple's iPhone continued to rank one for mobile device retail traffic at 6.5 percent with Android taking second at 5.9 percent. iPad came in third at 5.3 percent.

Online Retail Categories for Q1 2012 versus Q1 2011:

Consumer Sentiment for Department Stores for Q1 2012 versus Q1 2011

"Over the first quarter, the digitally empowered consumer continued to demonstrate the momentum of the online channel and specifically mobile commerce, which has established itself as a legitimate channel for shopping," said Craig Hayman, General Manager, IBM Industry Solutions. "Moving ahead, we will help retailers synchronize the demand and supply chains to address issues of product availability and connect to the mobile buyer."

To further discuss the Economic Indicator and field questions, Strategy Director, IBM Digital Marketing Jay Henderson will conduct an online question and answer session on May 2, 2012, 3-4 p.m. ET. To participate in the discussion, register here.

IBM online economic indicator
The IBM retail online economic indicator features data from IBM's analytics offerings including the Benchmark and IBM Cognos Consumer Insight. The IBM Benchmark is the only analytics-based, peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results, including real-time sales data. All of the data is aggregated and anonymous.  Analysis of public social media content came via IBM Cognos Consumer Insight which provides insight into underlying holiday shopping trends, hot topics of discussion and consumer sentiment.   Follow the conversation at #bigdata

About IBM Smarter Commerce
IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative delivers software and services to help companies transform their business processes to more quickly respond to shifting customer demands in today's digitally transformed marketplace.  The initiative is driven by the demands from organizations who are increasingly looking for ways to bring new levels of automation to marketing, sales and fulfillment to secure greater customer loyalty. The growth of mobile, social and online commerce are key trends within Smarter Commerce.

More information on Smarter Commerce can be found at

To join the conversation, follow hashtag #smartercommerce and #bigdata on Twitter

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