I’ve been closely monitoring all the data pouring in from various sources about Cyber Monday. It’s been a little hard to get a handle on exactly what happened since several tracking and research firms are reporting a wide range of numbers.
The good news: Sales for Cyber Monday, what is traditional the biggest online shopping day of the year, are up over last year.
The bad news: It’s difficult to discern exactly how much the numbers are up over last year since reports range from 8.5 percent to 20 percent.
Market researcher comScore reported that online sales Monday jumped 17 percent from last year, totaling nearly $2.04 billion, the heaviest online spending day in history and the first to surpass $2 billion in sales. Adobe’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping data showed online sales in the U.S. were $2.65 billion, a 16 percent increase over last year.
And Forrester’s estimate for online sales for Cyber Monday was a whopping $3 billion.
However, according to IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark, U.S. online sales grew just 8 percent on Cyber Monday, versus expectations they would grow 13 percent to 15 percent. Last year’s growth rate was 17 percent for the same day.
Still, as I predicted, consumers used mobile devices much more than last year. About 41.2 percent of traffic to retail websites on Cyber Monday came from mobile devices, along with 22 percent of sales. Only four years ago, only 5 percent of Cyber Monday sales and traffic came from mobile devices, according to IBM.
And most of the research shows analysts agree that the holiday shopping season is becoming less concentrated on a single day with online retailers spreading out deals and saving over a period of time. Some are even questioning the importance of using sales figures from specific days (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.) as bellwether for the entire season.
I thought this quote from a Barclay’s analyst was interesting: “As online shopping increases in importance, holiday purchases are likely to flatten out during the last two months of the year,” says Alan Rifkin, a retail analyst at Barclays. “There will be bigger days than others, but the idea that a few frenzied hours after Thanksgiving will give us a window into our country’s economic well-being has outlived its usefulness. People are clearly shifting the way in which they shop. I would caution against putting significant credence in any number from one, two, or even four days.”
Still, there was also some interesting data about the habits of Cyber Monday shopper. In previous years, shopping online was done at work where the majority of people had online access. This year, however, 54 percent of shopping occurred outside work hours with online shopping peaking after 9 p.m. Eastern time, according to the Adobe report. This is also attributed to the number of consumers using mobile devices to make purchases.
The overall holiday season is shaping up to be a good one, according to Forrester, which forecasts total online holiday season sales of $89 billion, which would represent a 13 percent increase from a year ago. It would almost amount to roughly 14 percent of total retail spending in November and December.
“While online sales still represent less than a fifth of total retail shopping, consumers consistently report that they intend to spend nearly half of their holiday budgets online,” Tyler White, senior analyst with Adobe Digital Index, told CBS MoneyWatch. “On average, 33 percent of consumers plan to spend more online this year, but among 18-to-34year-olds, that number goes up to 43 percent — so the future looks bright for online shopping.”
There was a lot of other interesting data in those reports as well:
- The top 25 retailers, each of whom snagged $30 million or more on Cyber Monday, boosted online sales by 25 percent for a total of almost $1.8 billion. (Adobe)
- Smaller retailers who grabbed $2 million or less in sales, saw their take grow by just 5 percent from last year. (Adobe)
- New York City again claimed the top spot for Cyber Monday sales, followed by Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and Chicago, IL. (IBM)
- Emails that are automatically triggered by a consumer’s action, like a purchase receipt or cart abandonment, increased 48 percent year-over-year. (IBM)
- Open and clickthrough rates on Cyber Monday were 12.8 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. (IBM)
- More than 46 percent of Cyber Monday emails were opened on mobile devices or tablets, versus 52 percent on desktops. (IBM)
- Pinterest referrals drove an average of $97.78 per order compared to $123.44 for Facebook, a difference of 26.2 percent. (IBM)
- Shoppers spent an average of $124.21 per order, down 3.5 percent from last year, though the number of transactions was up and people bought more items on average per order. (IBM)
Regardless of whether this specific “shopping holidays” are as relevant as previous years, there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the data and patterns that emerged. Those online retailers that can take advantage of the trends – such as mobile, changing shopping times, creative ways to stand out from the pack, and the spread of shopping over longer periods with the season – will emerge successful and push online shopping forward.