Retail holiday sales for 2012 from the first of November through Cyber Monday rose 16 percent year over year to more than $16.3 billion. Email marketing, mobile shopping, and on-site promotions have all played an important role in online sales.
The 16 percent boost in early holiday retail spending was in part thanks to particularly strong sales on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, which were up 32 percent, 28 percent, and 17 percent respectively from the 2011 holiday shopping season, according to trend analysis firm comScore.
“Despite some news reports suggesting that Cyber Monday might be declining in importance, the day has once again set an online spending record at nearly $1.5 billion,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “However, it is also clear that the holiday promotional period has begun even earlier this year, with strong online sales occurring on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Now, we shall see the extent to which continuing and attractive retailer promotions are able to boost sales for the remainder of the week.”
Email Marketing Drives Cyber Monday Sales
Some 44 percent of American shoppers surveyed for Bizrate Insights, an analysis firm, learned about Cyber Monday deals that lead to purchases from retailers' email marketing, making that channel, perhaps, the single most effective way of engaging shoppers in the 2012 holiday season.
Email was also an important marketing tool for Black Friday, with 39 percent of those surveyed in the Bizrate study learning about special offers from November 22 to November 25 from retailers' emails.
An additional 15 percent of shoppers learned about Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials from friends who forwarded emails or from others emailing specials or lists of specials.
Shoppers Check Prices, Buy with Mobile Devices
About 23 percent of the shoppers questioned in the Bizrate survey said that they used a smartphone or tablet to shop online either on Cyber Monday or Black Friday. Of these, 70 percent actually made a purchase. Mobile purchases helped to contribute to solid ecommerce saves on Black Friday.
“Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the ecommerce channel — particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores,” said comScore’s Fulgoni. “With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multi-channel marketing phenomenon.”
Smartphone and tablet users also checked prices — 56 percent on Black Friday and 48 percent on Cyber Monday — research products — 60 percent on Black Friday and 56 percent on Cyber Monday, according to Bizrate.
Of those browsing on a smartphone or tablet, more than 70 percent used the device at home, while some 13 percent used them in a brick-and-mortar retail store to make sure that they were really getting a bargain.
Retailers' Websites Important Too
Finally, more than 40 percent of respondents said that they had used the retailers websites to learn about Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, emphasizing just how important it is for merchants to have an online store and a good brand reputation since shoppers had to know about the retailer before they could visit the retailer’s website.