Retailers brace for a Cyber Monday surge

November 29, 2015 01:24 PM

The Monday after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Cyber Monday, has been the biggest online shopping day of the year in recent years, and retailers spent Sunday trying to get ahead of the online shopping surge, following a strong weekend of web shopping.

Office supplies giant Office Depot Inc., No. 8 in the 2015 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, sent out an e-mail just after midnight Central time announcing to shoppers that its Cyber Monday deals would be available a full day ahead of time. Deals offered include more than 55% off a vinyl chair, $190 off a Toshiba Satellite 15.6” laptop, and up to half off select HP printers. In an effort to get online shoppers into its physical retail locations, Office Depot has been pushing free one-hour in-store pickup on all online orders. An Office Depot spokeswoman said Monday the company started its Cyber Monday push a day early last year and is going to be offering online deals throughout the week.

Last week, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 3 in the 2015 Top 500) announced it would be offering its Cyber Monday deals starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday in response to historical spikes in traffic to its website on the Sunday night after Thanksgiving.

Macy’s Inc. (No. 7) sent out an e-mail to shoppers promoting free shipping on all online orders over $25 plus an additional 20% off all orders tomorrow. Macy’s normally requires a $99 order to get free shipping.

Other retailers, such as web-only sports and entertainment decal retailer Fathead LLC (No. 385) spent much of the weekend gearing up for the anticipated spike in traffic that Cyber Monday is expected to bring.

“In terms of preparedness, we’ve improved site response time and have more measures in place than ever before to assure up time,” says Michael Layne, director of internet marketing for Fathead.

Like many retailers, Fathead decided to spread out its promotions throughout the weekend rather than focusing on one particular day.

“Because of these changes, we’re more focused on how thing shake out for the whole holiday season rather than specific offers or days,” Layne says “With that said, our Cyber Monday offer will be a better deal for our customers than anything we’ve offered before.”

If traffic and sales trends from the holiday shopping weekend hold up, Layne and his team’s efforts to brace for surges and improve response times will be worthwhile.

Digital advertising vendor HookLogic released a report on Saturday showing that online shoppers converted at a rate 4.2 times higher than the October daily average on Thanksgiving and 6.2 times higher on Black Friday.

“Our retail network has seen a ton of momentum going through the weekend, and we expect to see the biggest Cyber Monday yet,” HookLogic CEO Jonathan Opdyke said.

Data from Monetate shows that traffic to retail sites is up 18% year over year through the weekend. That’s buoyed by more consumers shopping on mobile devices, as mobile traffic increased 104% over the same holiday period last year. Monetate’s data shows that while the number of people visiting online retail sites on Android devices grew higher year over year than Apple’s iOS (71% versus 42%), iOS users have been more lucrative for retailers so far this holiday shopping season, spending an average of $140 compared to $127 for Android users.

Some online retailers are strong online gains over the holiday weekend.

Peter Cobb, co-founder of handbag and luggage e-retailer eBags Inc. (No. 174 in the 2015 Top 500), says the company achieved its highest Saturday sales day in its 17-year existence, with sales up 63% versus last year. Consistent with Monetate’s report about more customers shopping on mobile devices, Cobb says he noticed a similar trend, with mobile sales on Saturday up 97% year over year.

Through noon on Sunday, sales were already up 42% versus the same time last year.

Cobb attributes that growth to his company being better prepared this year.

“We recently built out a team that is solely focused on negotiating killer deals with our 550 brands,” he says. “In the past, we might have had 50 ‘Doorbusters,’ this season we have over 1,000 Black Friday Deals, many of them exclusive to”

Meanwhile, ChannelAdvisor Corp.’s clients reported strong year-over-year sales growth on Thanksgiving, though the percentage growth has steadily fallen as the holiday weekend has gone on. In a blog post, ChannelAdvisor chairman Scot Wingo writes that same-store sales for the company’s clients grew 43.4% year-over-year on Thanksgiving, with that growth slowing to 20.3% on Black Friday and 16.9% on Saturday.

“Conversion rates on all devices dipped on Cyber Saturday indicating that consumers are doing a lot of research and looking for great deals compared to Thanksgiving/Black Friday,” Wingo writes.

ChannelAdvisor’s clients saw the greatest year-over-year sales gains coming through Google Shopping throughout the weekend, with sales growing 35.9% year-over-year on Thanksgiving, 40.3% on Black Friday, and 25.7% on Saturday.

ChannelAdvisor clients’ sales through Inc. (No. 1 in the 2015 Top 500) grew 28.9% year-over-year on Thanksgiving, 20.8% on Black Friday, and 20.6% on Saturday. Same store sales through adWords grew 1.2% year-over-year on Thanksgiving before declining 7.4% on Black Friday and 5.8% on Saturday. Client sales through eBay Inc. grew 7.0% year-over-year on Thanksgiving, 1.5% on Black Friday, and 3.6% on Saturday.




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