Online merchants on Tuesday said they were “pleased” by Cyber Monday sales, with a few reporting double-digit increases over last year. However, traffic to the top 500 retail Web sites was down 9 percent on Monday compared with last year, reported Experian Hitwise.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today. was the most visited of the top 500 sites, said Hitwise. Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and J.C. Penney were next.

An Amazon spokeswoman also described the company as “very pleased” with Cyber Monday sales. Amazon offered diamond-studded earrings at 70 percent off, and Endless gave discounts of 30 percent off boots, slippers and accessories. Boots from Hunter, Belle by Sigerson Morrison and Minnetonka were bestsellers. Stuart Weitzman was another popular brand. The company has been updating its Facebook page with promotions and style suggestions, she said.

“We were pleased with Cyber Monday,” said Gerald Barnes, president and chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus Direct. “It is a good day in terms of volume, but it isn’t one of our biggest days. Our biggest days come in the second week of December.”

The company had a four-day promotion of “surprises for you,” culminating with a butterfly-themed online hunt for gift cards hidden on the site on Monday.

Gift items have been selling well this season, including men’s gloves and an exclusive $25 zebra-stripe toy gun that shoots marshmallows. The company talks about promotions and special events on its Facebook page.

At GSI Commerce, which runs e-commerce sites for 100 clients, sales were “unequivocally up,” said executive vice president of strategy and marketing Fiona Dias. Customers include Ralph Lauren, Quiksilver, Charlotte Russe and Burberry.

“Cyber Monday has typically been a work shopping holiday, when between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., people in offices across every time zone hopped online and bought stuff,” she said. But Monday, in response to special offers, the shopping started at 6 a.m. and ended at midnight.

“Usually sales taper off in the evening, but [Monday] our biggest hour might have been 9 or 10 p.m.,” said Dias. “It means customers don’t have to shop only from work, we have broadband connections at home now.”

In addition, based on its experience with the newly acquired private-sale site Rue La La, GSI advised all its clients to offer online-only limited-time sales as well as free shipping, to send out reminder e-mails and constantly update the creative on the homepage all day long to say “six hours left,” “four hours left,” etc.

“That urgency gets consumers to convert from browsing to buying,” she said.

While exact numbers are not yet in, based on fulfillment operations, GSI expects Cyber Monday will probably turn out to be its biggest sales day of the holiday season. For the four-day period from Thanksgiving through Sunday, same-store sales were up 17 percent year-over-year. Cyber Monday is GSI’s biggest sale day so far this season.

During the company’s peak minute Monday, it took 789 orders, which was 60 percent more than it took during its peak minute last year.

“Net-net, we had a very high volume yesterday,” said Dias., which kicked off its biannual sale in the U.S. Monday, had a “storming, fantastic” day, said vice president of sales and marketing Alison Loehnis. Top categories were dresses, boots and knitwear. Most items seemed to be self-purchases rather than gifts, she said, based on what the company can glean from shipping addresses and gift cards. Typically, male customers purchase in mid-December. Full-price cruise merchandise was as popular as fall sale items, which are discounted 30 to 50 percent.

The company has an online gift guide and also promotes gift ideas on Facebook, Twitter and its iPhone application. Mobile traffic is typically 1 to 2 percent, although the company has had spikes to 5 percent and even into the low double digits, she said.


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