Customers worldwide are moving faster than ever before, hopping from device to device, buying anywhere.

That's creating opportunities for digitally savvy retailers. But it is also creating challenges for those who fail to adapt to changing realities, according to new research from Demandware, a provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) e-commerce solutions.

The Burlington, Mass.-based company just released its inaugural Shopping Index, which measures digital commerce growth and identifies the trends driving that growth.

Shopping Everywhere

Specifically, it analyzes same site results over time and assesses the behavior of more than 100 million consumers globally that shop with retailers on the Demandware Commerce Cloud.

"With increasing competition in the retail industry, the Shopping Index underscores that retailers that do not emphasize agile growth over the status quo risk failure," the company noted.

The index looked at two key metrics: shopper attraction or the number of shoppers and shopper spend, which combines site visit frequency, conversion rate and average order value (AOV).

Shopper attraction was up 25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 year-over-year and drove 81 percent of the digital commerce growth. Shopper spend grew 6 percent in the fourth quarter 2014 year-over-year and drove 19 percent of the growth.

The combination of shopper spend and shopping attraction yields the Shopping Index of 32 percent, Demandware reported.

Shoppers also continue to reach for their smartphones at an increasing rate. The research found phones accounted for 33 percent of total e-commerce traffic and 16 percent of all orders in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from 23 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 2013.

The opportunity for retailers, said Elana Anderson, SVP Worldwide Marketing at Demandware. "is to leverage the cross-device growth to deliver richer and more seamless experiences."

They need to find ways to maintain context as customers migrate from one device to another throughout their days or shopping journeys. ”Retailers that take advantage of this opportunity will more effectively engage and retain their customers and drive conversion,” she said.

In addition, retailers need to be judicious with discounts and promotions. While these are attractive to customers, they can negatively impact margin.

Want to learn more? Take a look at the Demandware data, translated to an easy to understand infographic by CMSWire's very own Jackie Jordan.

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