Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, celebrated every autumn in October or November. According to Redseer Consulting, the sales volume during the festival usually accounts for about 35%-40% of the annual sales of e-commerce in India; for 2018 Redseer predicts $2.5 to $3 billion gross merchandise value, up from $1.5 billion in 2017 as the more than 460 million internet users make their holiday purchases.
It is this dynamic growth that prompted us to produce a series of articles on how to prepare for peak holiday traffic. Examples such as "The Holiday Shopping Surge is Going Global: How to Keep Up (and cash in)" and "It Will Take More Than Web Pages That Load Faster to Boost Holiday Conversion" offer advice on how our retail partners can ensure their ecommerce sites are ready for traffic surges.
We analyzed the global traffic patterns and conversion rates around Diwali to provide insights to help businesses prepare for the peak traffic volume around the holiday (and beyond).
This year's Diwali festival fell on 7 November and the days leading up to Diwali are the busiest online shopping times in India, usually beginning with Dussehra, which was 18 & 19 October.
In 2017, our data showed two main shopping periods: early shopping, such as during the mega event from 4 October to 8 October, and then a flurry of last-minute shopping up to 19 October (Diwali).
Global Traffic Patterns
For 2017, we compared global baseline average session traffic for the period 15 to 30 September against daily session traffic in October, in India along with two countries with a large Indian population: the United States and the United Kingdom. The charts below show the variance; note the surge on or around 5 October. On this day two of the largest online retailers in India (Flipkart and Amazon) ran a 'Mega event' promotion. And on Diwali (19 Oct), while India was quiet due to shopping being done beforehand, the US and UK saw a spike of last-minute ordering.
2017 Global Traffic Average vs. Specific Countries
The 2018 global traffic analysis shows a similar pattern, with the spikes coming on the mega sale days, and tailing off in India on Diwali.
Mobile Surpasses Desktop by 12%
For 2018, mobile devices increased their usage as a percent of sessions, to 48%, exceeding desktops by 12%. Tablets represented a distinct 11% of sessions in 2017, which decreased to 9% in 2018.
This data corresponds to the 37.4% increase from 2017 to 2018 of mcommerce retail sales growth forecast by eMarketer, with mcommerce representing 75.3% of overall retail ecommerce sales.
Mobile OS Conversion Rates
In 2017, for the two weeks leading up to Diwali, Android conversion rates averaged 1.31% and the iOS average was 1.38%. For Diwali 2018, we saw those averages increase to 2.1% for Android and 2.26% for iOS which is expected given the growth in mobile device usage for shopping.
These statistics emphasize how important it is for online retailers to optimize their sites for mobile access, as well as desktop during peak traffic periods. Despite the high numbers of mobile users in India, they also have slowest 4G speeds in the world, making mobile optimization even more important in the region.
To prepare for peak traffic, you need to by test your website and mobile applications performance at varying load levels. To learn how you can easily test from tens to millions of users and from development to production, start with the Akamai CloudTest demo.