E-retailers jockey for their share of $30 billion in online holiday purchases still up for grabs

December 4, 2015 04:25 PM

The busy holiday shopping season is just getting started. Or so many merchants would have consumers think.

The Thanksgiving weekend was a big weekend online with $11 billion in sales transacted on the web and 15% growth year over year. But as “Cyber Week”—as many merchants call it—closes out, some retailers are saying “this is just the beginning” as they extend Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the web, or roll out sweepstakes and other promotions with hopes they’ll stand out from the pack in the next few weeks.

“Every day from now until Christmas is important to our business success this holiday season,” says a spokesman or woman for Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. “We have a great plan in place to position us to compete. This includes a strengthened in-stock position, optimized inventory and a clearer pricing strategy with simplified promotions.” 

Toys ‘R’ Us, No. 40 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, will continue free shipping on online orders above $19 for the holiday shopping season—down from $49 before the holidays—and it will match prices on products against online and offline competitors.

This week many merchants, including Groupon Goods (No. 30) and The Children’s Place Inc. (No. 122), extended Cyber Monday discounts into Tuesday, Wednesday and beyond, urging consumers via email and social media to act on Cyber Week discounts that would “be over soon.” Inc. (No. 31) is taking extra steps to make sure customers see its deals, including the points they can earn for Overstock’s Club O rewards program, says Natalie Malaszenko, senior vice president of marketing. Overstock’s home page this week features a “Cyber Week” grid of displays that lets shoppers click into several product categories, such as Toys, where they can view 729 products marked at special holiday discounts, with the value they can earn in Club O rewards points. 

The retailer will continue offering deals throughout the rest of the season in an effort to keep the customer shopping activity strong, she adds. “We have hopes, but not sure what will happen,” Malaszenko says. 

Among the deals intended to keep shoppers coming is a weekly sweepstakes, launched for the first time this year, that awards a winner each week with jewelry valued at up to $3,000. The sweepstakes will run until Jan. 1, Malaszenko says. (No. 757) will run a “12 days of Christmas” promotion this month with a different deal on each of those days.

The $11 billion that was transacted over the five-day period from Thanksgiving to the following Monday dubbed Cyber Monday, represented 30% of total e-commerce sales in November ($38.5 million), according to e-commerce services company Adobe Systems. Web traffic measurement firm comScore Inc. predicted $70 billion in total online sales for November and December, so which suggests $31.5 billion is still up for grabs in December.

The story is a bit different for sales in physical stores. From Thanksgiving to Nov. 29, sales in physical stores dropped 10% to $20.8 billion, according to retail analysis firm ShopperTrak. The company attributes declines, among other factors, to consumers shopping over a longer time period than previous years and not focusing just on Black Friday and the surrounding weekend. The company still projects a 2.4% increase in store sales for the whole of November and December.




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