Although Cyber Monday and Black Friday online sales both broke records, analysts are seeing signs that the two big shopping days are losing some punch. Forrester Research ecommerce analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said, “Black Friday becomes more irrelevant every year.”
Have the two most advertised shopping days lost their mojo?
Perhaps. In an effort to outdo each other, online merchants are starting holiday sales earlier each year. We now have Black Friday week, starting the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Amazon, Staples, Target, and Walmart all moved up their promotions — consumers responded. Thanksgiving Day itself continued its momentum as a major shopping day with many retail stores opening at 6 p.m. and online sales peaking in the morning before football and turkey and then again in the evening, with record-breaking results.
Knowing that discounts start prior to Thanksgiving and extend beyond Cyber Monday gives shoppers some breathing room in getting the best prices. Some analysts have speculated that people are also suffering from shopping fatigue. Nevertheless, both days showed improvement over 2013. The National Retail Federation reported less robust brick-and-mortar sales than anticipated, but some shoppers likely just decided to shop on websites from their couch.
Overall, from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, online sales increased 12.6 percent over 2013.
Black Friday Results
Online sales on Black Friday increased 9.5 percent from last year, according to the IBM Digital Benchmark Report. However, the value of the average order on Black Friday was $129.37, down 4.4 percent from 2013. Ecommerce analytics consultant Custora reported a more robust number — an increase of 20.6 percent over 2013 in its “E-Commerce Pulse” tracking. IBM’s analysis shows that 2014 Black Friday items per order increased 3.4 percent over 2013 to four.
Online sales on Black Friday increased 9.5 percent from last year, according to the IBM Digital Benchmark Report.
On Black Friday, mobile shoppers frequently used smartphones to browse but tablets to purchase. IBM determined that smartphones accounted for 34.7 percent of all Black Friday online traffic, compared with 14.6 percent for tablets. However, tablets accounted for 16 percent of actual online sales, compared with 11.8 percent for smartphones. Black Friday mobile traffic accounted for 49.6 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 25 percent over last year and mobile sales captured 27.9 percent of total online sales, up 28.2 percent over 2013, according to IBM. Custora reported that mobile captured 30.3 percent of all online sales.
Consumers using Apple devices led the way in browsing and purchasing. iOS traffic accounted for 34.2 percent of all online traffic, more than double that of Android, which contributed 15 percent of all online traffic. Apple users were also bigger spenders — they averaged $121.86 per order compared to $98.07 for Android users, a difference of 24.3 percent. iOS sales accounted for an impressive 21.9 percent of all online sales, compared to 5.8 percent for Android.
Email drove the most online sales on Black Friday, with clicks accounting for 27.3 percent of sales, according to Custora. Free search accounted for 18.9 percent of sales and paid search accounted for 18.5 percent. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, accounted for a paltry 1.7 percent of sales.
Retaining its position as the busiest online shopping day of the holiday season, Cyber Monday clocked in with 8.5 percent growth compared to 2013. Average order value was $124.21, down 3.5 percent from 2013. Cyber Monday online sales were 30.5 percent higher than Black Friday in 2014.
Cyber Monday clocked in with 8.5 percent growth compared to 2013 … Cyber Monday online sales were 30.5 percent higher than Black Friday in 2014.
While traffic from desktop computers swelled as people went back to work, mobile traffic was still strong, according to IBM. Desktop PCs accounted for 58.6 percent of all online traffic and 78 percent of all online sales. Mobile traffic accounted for 41.2 percent of all online traffic, up 30.1 percent over 2013. Mobile sales were also strong, reaching 22 percent of total Cyber Monday online sales, an increase of 27.6 percent year-over-year.
Smartphones accounted for 28.5 percent of all Cyber Monday online traffic, more than double that of tablets, which contributed 12.5 percent. However, tablets continue to be the device of choice for purchases, with 12.9 percent of online sales compared to 9.1 percent for smartphones. Tablet users averaged $121.49 per order compared to $99.61 for smartphone users.
Mobile consumers on Apple devices again outpaced their Android brethren, with iOS traffic accounting for 28.7 percent of total online traffic, more than double that of Android at 12.2 percent. The average order value for iOS users was $114.79 per order compared to $96.84 for Android users. IOS sales accounted for 17.4 percent of total online sales, more than four times that of Android, which accounted for 4.4 percent of all online sales.
Cyber Monday exhibited a similar trend to Black Friday, with email marketing driving 23.9 percent of orders, free search 18.8 percent, and paid search 16 percent, according to Custora.
The median number of emails sent to consumers from retailers on Cyber Monday was two, remaining the same in 2014 as in 2013. Open and click-through rates on Cyber Monday were 12.8 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. More than 46 percent of Cyber Monday emails were opened on mobile devices or tablets, versus 52 percent on desktops, according to IBM.
Lessons for 2105
- Make sure your website is optimized for mobile users. By next year it will likely represent a majority of traffic.
- Stay with email marketing. It is the most effective method. But don’t damage its value by annoying customers with too many promotions.
- You may wish to rethink your social media efforts as these sites are not driving traffic.
- To keep up with the major online merchants, you may have to offer discounts earlier in the Thanksgiving week.