Cyber Monday sales topped $3 billion and set a new e-commerce record, but it was the evolution of the digital shopping experience, which platforms spurred consumers to spend and a growing international component that set the sales bonanza apart this year.
Adobe Digital Index put online sales on Monday at $3.07 billion, a 16 percent increase year-over-year, with nearly $800 million coming from mobile devices. This year’s growth rate was just below last year’s 17 percent increase, to $2.68 billion, and on par with the 16 percent rise seen between 2012 to 2013.
Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at Adobe Digital Index, said: “Although crossing the $3 billion mark is significant, it’s the experience of being online and shopping online that is at maximum value right now because we can search lots of stores and we can find the best price more easily with tools and shopper-helper sites. All of these factors combined have created a moment in time where digital shopping has just become ‘the thing.’”
She said people have become more comfortable shopping online and credited a combination of security, product availability, promotions, ability to view items in a visually rich experience, confidence that goods will arrive intact and on time, and features like click-and-collect and return in-store.
Gaffney noted that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have given way to an entire week of online sales. And while merchants will continue to release specific deals every day this week, they still anchor sales to terms such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday because consumers are programmed to believe that those words mean superdeep discounts.
She said retailers hold on to this way of thinking so they can use the promotional mind-set to drive sales — but the reality is that the lowest prices actually occur on Thanksgiving Day, not on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
The Custora E-Commerce Pulse reported similar top-line sales trends for Cyber Monday with a 16.2 percent increase in e-commerce revenues, a 14.7 percent boost in orders and a 1.3 percent uptick in average order values.
Corey Pierson, chief executive officer of Custora, zeroed in on which channels led to orders on Monday. Paid search drove about 16.5 percent of orders, research — or organic search — was responsible for 20.7 percent and e-mail marketing influenced 22 percent of purchases. If one adds that up, more than half of the orders on Cyber Monday came from either Google or e-mail marketing.
That is where Pierson said brands should concentrate their marketing efforts — not on social media advertising, which drove just 1.5 percent of Cyber Monday orders.
“We don’t necessarily say social media marketing is a waste because it could be a lot of Facebook and brand awareness marketing that led to those people clicking on their e-mails on Cyber Monday, but as far as what’s directly driving orders, social media is hardly on the map,” Pierson said.
Many retailers are still trying to squeeze all they can out of the digital shopping event.
J.C. Penney said it would extend its Cyber Monday sale an additional two days, through Wednesday, offering 33 percent off purchases of $100 or more and 20 percent off purchases under $100.
Kohl’s “Cyber Week Spectacular” will last through Saturday, and if results from the week leading up to Cyber Monday are any indication of how the retailer will fare, Kohl’s will have a good season online. Between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29, kohls.com had more than 600 million page views, with more than three million customers placing orders on the site. The Kohl’s app received five million visits and more than a quarter of kohls.com items are expected to be fulfilled in-store — either through buy-online, pick-up-in-store or ship from store options.
In a blog post, Target said it would also extend its Cyber Week deals through Saturday. The retailer, which offered 15 percent off sitewide on target.com Monday, apologized for delayed access to the site — a result of higher than usual traffic and order volume.
“We knew there’d be a tremendous response to our 15 percent off sitewide offer, and the demand was even higher than we anticipated,” Jason Goldberger, president of target.com and mobile, said in the post. “Early in the day, target.com orders were coming in twice as fast as our busiest day ever. And by early in the night, Target had already surpassed the previous record for online sales.”
At four-month-old marketplace Jet, gross merchandise volume, or GMV, was 10 percent higher on Cyber Monday than predicted. Based on how Jet.com was trending over the holiday weekend, Liza Landsman, chief customer officer, projected that the site would do about $2 million in marketplace sales.
“We surpassed that. We did 10 percent better than we had forecast,” Landsman said Tuesday morning. Total GMV for Jet’s marketplace and third-party JetAnywhere business was $2.7 million, the company’s highest sales day ever.
Mike Karanikolas, cofounder and co-ceo of e-tailer Revolve and sister luxury site Forward, said the entire period from Black Friday through Cyber Monday was “far in excess” of projections.
The company, which is on track to log $400 million in combined revenues from the two sites this year, saw nearly $4 million in sales on Black Friday, a 163 percent increase year-over-year.
The getting is good enough on Cyber Monday that international shoppers are starting to enter the game.
Lila Snyder, president of global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes, said this was the second year that Black Friday became part of the consumer vernacular in China. Snyder said there was a 40 percent increase in orders to American brands from China between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29, with Black Friday the peak of activity. China was the top international destination for Black Friday orders.
From 2014, there was a 78 percent increase in orders placed with U.S. retailers by online shoppers in China, a 114 percent increase in orders placed in Taiwan and a 34 percent increase in orders placed by consumers in South Korea.
“We still had a strong day [on Monday]; we came in right where we forecast. Cyber Monday is stronger in Canada and the U.K. than other countries, but we still saw year-over-year growth in China as well,” Snyder said. “It’s only a matter of time. Really, this is only the second year we’ve seen the Chinese consumer really gear up for Black Friday so it’s not surprising that Cyber Monday hasn’t really taken off yet.”
She noted that although Cyber Monday was a strong day in China as well, it’s still less of an event in the country due to its newness. She suspects that the day will grow substantially in terms of popularity in the next one to two years.
Last month, Pitney Bowes’ international shipping provider, Borderfree, said it would expand a partnership originally piloted with Alipay’s ePass program to help more American retailers take part in cross-border shipping to China. Oscar de la Renta and MotoSport were among the dozen new retailers joining the program before the holidays. Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Ann Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Aéropostale already take part.
Alex Bolen, ceo at Oscar de la Renta, said that while the Chinese shopping holiday Single’s Day is not a focus for the brand due to the deeply discounted nature of the sales offered that day, driving Chinese traffic on Cyber Monday was a priority. Together with Borderfree, Alipay and Baidu, the brand rolled out its first Black Friday and Cyber Monday branded marketing strategy online in China.
“The fact that we have Black Friday and Cyber Monday are convenient ways for us to fast forward our process of being in front of Chinese consumers,” Bolen explained. “Chinese consumers are focused on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and it’s a reason for us to be talking to them now. The goal isn’t to move merchandise on Black Friday, it’s to be top of mind with Chinese consumers and keep their attention all year.”