Cyber Monday might break sales records this year — but the shopping holiday lost some of its momentum amid the influx of promotions that started last week.
This story first appeared in the December 2, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That isn’t to say that e-commerce isn’t performing well so far this holiday season — Black Friday’s online sales reached a record $2.4 billion for the single day. It is simply that online deals are no longer relegated to the Monday after Thanksgiving. While Cyber Monday’s overall sales take is expected to be 15 percent higher than last year, that is still markedly slower growth than the 25 percent gain seen on Black Friday, according to early data from Adobe Digital Index. (Last year, the firm recorded Cyber Monday sales grew 16 percent to $2.29 billion.)
Adobe Digital tracked 27 million visits to 4,500 retail Web sites between midnight and 10 a.m. Monday, indicating that the day started off strong with 17 percent year-over-year growth. In the first 10 hours, $719 million was spent online, with total sales for the day projected to surpass $2.6 billion. Mobile sales via smartphones and tablets — responsible for $190 million of the take — were fueling 26 percent of total sales online, up from 18 percent last year. By day’s end, Adobe projected that sales growth would even out to about 15 percent as mobile shopping tapers off later in the evening.
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According to the National Retail Federation’s Cyber Monday Expectations Survey, 126.9 million shoppers planned to shop online on Monday, down almost 3.6 percent from the 131.6 million who said they would participate last year.
Online users are still shopping in droves — lured by the same types of aggressive promotions seen at brick-and-mortar stores for Black Friday. Amazon unveiled new deals every 10 minutes during Cyber Monday, with discounts on Fire TVs, Kindle Fire HD 7s and Fire Phones as well as 50 to 70 percent off cold-weather outerwear and accessories for kids and puffer jackets for women.
For the first time, Wal-Mart’s Cyber Monday deals extended to its brick-and-mortar stores. More than 100 items priced at special Cyber Monday prices could be ordered online and picked up that same day from any Wal-Mart door.
The retailer started its Cyber Week sale at walmart.com on Saturday, and same-day pickup in store more than doubled year over year in the first day. A special “Evening Edition” of sales was added this year to cater to working consumers who might not be able to do their shopping until the later hours.
More than 70 percent of the traffic to walmart.com came from a mobile device during the holiday weekend, a record for the site.
Further underscoring the importance of shopping on the go, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. reported that more than 50 percent of its Cyber Monday transactions at jcpenney.com came from mobile users.
“Cyber Monday has been a tremendous momentum day for the last few years and e-commerce continues to grow by strong numbers, so why wouldn’t Cyber Monday also grow,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. She predicted Cyber Monday sales would at least match Black Friday’s online take of $2.4 billion and might even make it to the $3 billion mark. “It’s been great for the past several years and it’s usually the biggest day of the year without retailers significantly trying.”
She contended that sales are pretty consistent on and offline, with similar discounts offered on both channels. The biggest differentiator online is that there are just so many more items available than in-store.
Clement Kwan, president of Yoox Corp., said that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday saw two consecutive daily sales records, with Friday breaking an all-time daily record with 1.5 million visitors and an order placed every three-and-a-half seconds. Shoes were the best-selling category (15,000 pairs were sold), and high-heel ankle boots were the most popular style.
While North America contributed the majority of the sales, Yoox contends that Black Friday is becoming more of a global event, with Moscow and Tokyo being second- and third-most-shopped cities. London came in fourth place saleswise, but the U.K. had the highest percentage of mobile shoppers.
Kwan said Yoox would tweak its marketing messages based on data collected from Nov. 26 through Nov. 30 to help drive more sales Monday.
“We use these trends to adjust our overall proposition to customers and recommendation algorithms for targeted communication of content and merchandising. This basically amounts to blending content and commerce to meet the expectations of the customer today, both on desktop and mobile,” Kwan said, adding “results so far look good” for Monday.
Forty-six percent of traffic came from mobile, resulting in a mobile sales increase of 107 percent year over year for Yoox.com, Thecorner.com, Shoescribe.com and more than 30 monobrand online stores including armani.com, alexanderwang.com, missoni.com and valentino.com that all operate under the Yoox Group umbrella.
PayPal is also seeing significant mobile growth this season, according to Pablo Rodriguez, PayPal global head of consumer initiatives. As of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, the payment solution was experiencing a 39 percent lift in mobile payment volume compared with a year earlier.
“The mobile piece is significant just given the data on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and even today,” Rodriguez said. Over the weekend, he told WWD that Thanksgiving and Black Friday saw 47 percent and 62 percent jumps in global mobile payment volume, respectively.
Rodriguez acknowledged that Cyber Monday’s mobile payments are growing at a slower rate than those of Thanksgiving and Black Friday — but this is likely due to merchants launching sales earlier and earlier. “The fact that many retailers pushed sales before last Friday signified that’s its more of a Cyber Month than Cyber Monday,” Rodriguez said.