Another Cyber Weekend (Cyber Five across the pond) is in the books, and another peak shopping season is in full swing.
The five busy shopping days from US Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday saw record growth across the board — from overall sales to average order value, mobile usage, in-store pickups and more. In the UK, Barclays reported a 16.5% increase in transaction value and 7.2% increase in transaction volume compared to 2018. It was expected that British shoppers would spend £8.57bn in sales across the four days to Cyber Monday. Whilst in the US Adobe Analytics reports that Cyber Monday, the traditional highwater mark of the holiday season, hit $9.4 billion in revenue, surpassing last year’s record-breaking $7.9 billion.
ChannelAdvisor’s preliminary results show a daily average revenue increase of 24.3% across the Cyber Weekend, year over year.
A lot can happen in a week of holiday peak omnichannel commerce. (Toys R Us is making a comeback in both brick and mortar locations and online! Amazon is testing a new holiday storage facility?) As the dust settles on the 2019 Cyber Weekend, here are a few early takeaways from the shopping season so far:
Peak Sales Numbers Are Strong
Preliminary results from ChannelAdvisor’s marketplace sellers show a year-over-year revenue increase of 22% on Thanksgiving Day, 37% on Black Friday, 23% on Cyber Saturday (or Small Business Saturday), 20% on Cyber Sunday and 19% on Cyber Monday.
Average order value (AOV) is up as well, according to Adobe, who saw a 6% increase. The company estimates that shoppers have spent $81.5 billion online since 1st November.
But the peak season is obviously far from over. According to Accenture, much spending in the UK is yet to come. Their research suggests nearly half of shoppers planning to leave most of their shopping to the last weekend before Christmas, followed by 42% preferring to leave it to post-Christmas and Boxing Day.
Shoppers and Sellers Have Become ‘Cyber Agnostic’
Much like your neighbour’s Christmas lights, peak promotions have started popping up earlier and earlier with each passing year — and sometimes lingering around well into the January sales.
The Cyber Weekend used to mark the kickoff to the heavy holiday shopping season, but the season is ever-evolving. Is it now the “Cyber Six?”… or the “Cyber Seven”? The truth is, retailers aren’t confined to days with catchy names or defined timeframes. Savvy brands and retailers start promotions in early November (if not before) and drive them through the final holiday push.
These specific shopping “holidays” — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, etc. — do offer individual spikes for brands and retailers and provide benchmarks with which to compare themselves. But for consumers bombarded with an avalanche of varying promotional efforts, these holidays have come to represent more of a season-long event or shopping mindset than any individual, 24-hour sale. Depending on the retailer or consumer you ask, “Black Friday” might be just an umbrella term for any holiday deals and promotions.
Amazon, of course, began previewing their Black Friday merchandise back in early November and even launched a new procession of promotions after Cyber Monday called “12 Days of Deals” that will carry shoppers through most of the shopping season. Likewise, many of these major retailers will keep the promotions going strong for a full week after Cyber Monday.
Brands investing heavily in digital marketing campaigns in early November have already reaped the benefits. Adobe has reported 13 days (and counting) with more than $2 billion in revenue since 1st November.
More individual records will continue to be broken into the new year as the amorphous holiday shopping season stretches further in each direction.
Click and Collect Continues to be Popular
As the lines have blurred in the way brands and retailers promote their Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, similarly, the lines between online and offline shopping have begun to blur in how consumers shop.
As a result, Click and Collect has become a popular option for many consumers this holiday season. Adobe reported a 43% uptick in Click and Collect orders. Offering “collect in store” options for your products is a win-win for both sellers and shoppers, especially around the holidays, as consumers get their products faster and retailers save on delivery costs.
Retail giants like John Lewis and Marks and Spencer have long made good use of this omnichannel strategy, due to their strong brick-and-mortar footprint and solid mobile interfaces.
Mobile Grabs More Revenue Share
Mobile also continued its steady rise in e-commerce influence — and not just mobile traffic. As conversions become easier and more frictionless on mobile devices (and tablets), mobile transactions are quickly gobbling up more of the online revenue share.
According to Adobe, mobile and tablet devices accounted for 63% of site traffic from 1st November to 2nd December. During that same time period, $33.1 billion of products were purchased on mobile and tablet devices (39.6% of transactions) versus $48.4 billion (60.4% of transactions) on desktops.
The year-over-year growth rate of mobile conversions is currently surpassing the growth of e-commerce itself, so it’s only a matter of time before the mobile traffic and transactions become the dominant source of revenue.
With the craziness of the peak season in full swing, the real work begins for retailers to grind out a solid performance over the next three weeks. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Focus on the Full Funnel
- Do you have KPIs across every phase of the funnel? Are you tracking — and segmenting — ad spend at the top of the funnel against the bottom?
- What kind of top-of-funnel intent signals have you seen from consumers so far via page visits, ad clicks, abandoned carts, etc.? Use those signals to develop and refine your digital marketing audiences and develop campaigns specifically for them. As the season wears on, these interested consumers will shift from deal-driven behaviour to need-driven behaviour. Catch those desperate shoppers that you know were interested in your product with a well-placed, well-timed ad.
- Your holiday fulfilment strategy is fully baked by this point in the season, but delivering on your shipping promises is vital to positive consumer experiences. Make sure you communicate all shipping deadlines and order statuses clearly with your new customers.
- Remember: Many of your hard-earned holiday sales will be returned. How you handle them can be the difference between lasting loyalty and damaging reviews. Whether you work with a third-party logistics (3PL) partner or handle holiday returns in-house, look for ways to connect with your consumers and encourage future purchases.
Stay Competitive on Pricing
- Are you losing the Buy Box on Amazon to competitors who undercut you on price? Are you winning the Buy Box but eroding your profit margins in a constant race to the bottom? Find a repricing solution that allows you to beat your competitors while maximising profit.
The Cyber Weekend marks a crucial peak in this season’s calendar, but there’s still a long way to go. Use what you learned from this weekend throughout the rest of the year and into 2020 to ensure you remain competitive.