Cyber Five Kicks Off The 2017 Holiday Season

November 30, 2017

While Black Friday has historically marked the start of holiday shopping, the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday (known as the “Cyber Five”) have done the same online. Increasingly, we would argue that these lines are blurred as the notion of online versus offline shopping gets muddled.

For example, if I order a product from Target on my phone and pick it up in the store on my way home from work is this a) mobile commerce, b) online commerce, c) brick-and-mortar commerce or d) all of the above? Of course, you savvy readers know the answer is D.

The stats are rolling in and, as we expected, the holiday season is off to a solid start with most figures showing 15-17% growth in sales over last year. However, the growth is not shared equally. In a pattern consistent with non-holiday trends, it is expected that Amazon captured a significant amount of this growth. One report on Black Friday had Amazon generating an amazing 55% of transactions among the largest internet retailers. Of course, this is only an educated guess, as Amazon doesn’t release these numbers and only released some stats around the significant growth of Kindle, Echo and Fire products, with the Echo Dot and the Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote setting new records as the overall best sellers globally — of any product.

As we predicted, one of the big stories has been the growth of mobile. We mentioned last week that consumers are showing a greater disposition to not just use their phones for searching and browsing but also for transacting.  

We saw this same trend here at ChannelAdvisor with the percentage of orders coming from mobile (smartphone and tablet) peaking at 58% on Thanksgiving Day. A record 81% of traffic that day was also from mobile, indicating that conversion rates still don’t match between devices.

Here was the breakdown of mobile use over Cyber Five:

mobile share of traffic for Cyber 5 2017

Clearly, as consumers get back to work on Monday they shift some of their usage back to desktop but a majority remains mobile. Although many retailers have made improvements to their mobile site experience, we would argue there is still more to do to close the gap of conversion rates.  Mobile commerce is growing rapidly primarily because consumers increasingly expect to be able to do nearly any computing task from their phone and the phones themselves are getting bigger and better. From a size perspective alone, compare the typical mobile phone screen size used three years ago to what we have today:

mobile phone sizes

Depending on whether you calculate on device size or the screen itself today’s phones are as much as 65% larger, which has to have a positive impact on conversion rates. Whether or not phone sizes have topped out remains to be seen, but for brands and retailers, the mobile experience is clearly paramount.

Now with the craziness of Cyber Five behind us, the real work begins for retailers to grind out a solid performance over the next three weeks as consumers shift from deal-driven behavior to need-driven behavior.  As a result, some of the focus will naturally shift toward fulfillment and ensuring that all those packages arrive on time. After all, the kids won’t appreciate that you saved 15% if their Hatchimals don’t arrive until December 26th.