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Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2014: Emerging Ecommerce Trends

Black Friday & Cyber Monday are the two biggest shopping days in the United States. With the manic shopping days just behind us, it’s now time to see how the industry grew over the course of a year and look at some of the emerging trends.

As we’re now coming to see, online sales this time around have surpassed all previous records to make Cyber Monday the biggest online spending day in the US history. According to a comScore press release, “Cyber Monday Exceeded $2 Billion in Desktop Sales for First Time Ever to Rank as Heaviest U.S. Online Spending Day in History”.

In this post, I’ve highlighted some of the key factors that influenced online shopping trends this year and insights on how online retailers can capitalize on these trends for 2015.

Growing use of mobile for ecommerce shopping

While ecommerce as a whole is crossing growth levels beyond any previous estimates, mobile commerce is growing even faster. Smartphones are playing an important role in the growth of mobile commerce.

IBM determined that smartphones accounted for 34.7 percent of all Black Friday online traffic, compared with 14.6 percent for tablets.

Specifically, shoppers using Apple devices accounted for the largest share of ecommerce transactions.

The vast majority of mobile shopping happened on Apple devices over the weekend – 78%, while only 21.6% happened on Android devices.

Key Takeaway:

It’s imperative that your site is optimized for mobile and you offer a seamless shopping experience across devices. One of the primary challenges of shopping on mobile is a small screen which hinders product discovery.

Strengthening site search & navigation and offering innovative ways for customers to discover products i.e. lookbooks, top picks, personalized recommendations etc. can help retailers ensure that a small screen doesn’t become a roadblock in offering a great shopping experience.

Offering longer spell of discounts worked well in increasing sales

Discounts and coupons have long been powerful marketing tools that impact customer buying behavior.

This year, in order to stay ahead in the competition, online retailers began offering discounts a week earlier. Marketers found that offering discounts starting from Tuesday led to an increase in traffic and sales. Giant retailers like Amazon, Staples, Target, and Walmart were fast to implement the ‘Black Friday Week’ and they received positive responses from customers.

Offering early discounts – starting before Thanksgiving and extending beyond Cyber Monday – has given shoppers some breathing room in getting the best prices. According to Practical Ecommerce, some analysts have speculated that people are also suffering from shopping fatigue. Nevertheless, both days showed improvement over 2013.

Overall, from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, online sales increased 12.6 percent over 2013.

Key Takeaway:

Consider offering a longer spell of discounts to get customers in the shopping mode. This also gives marketers the chance to experiment with different types of sales & discounts to increase sales & foster customer loyalty.

Email Marketing topped the list for receiving personalized information

It is no wonder that Email Marketing has fared well in capturing shoppers attention and increasing sales.

According to Shopify, 70% of people make use of coupons or discounts they learn about from email.

In this digital age, emails are the most important medium to communicate with your customers.

This year, 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.

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.

However, sending irrelevant emails to customers can only lead to customer frustration. Ecommerce marketers need to build an email marketing strategy and customize their emails for each customer. Sending personalized emails tailored to customer preferences will entice them to come back for more purchases.

Key Takeaway:

Email marketing is an efficient channel to increase sales. Make sure you personalize your emails and keep your content relevant.

Lacklustre social media performance

Though Social Media has been considered to be an excellent tool for engaging customers, this year social media barely contributed to online shopping sales.

With only 1.7 % of this weekend’s e-commerce orders tied to social, Custora claims Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest played a barely noticeable role during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday online shopping period.

Key Takeaway:

While using social media as a tool to connect with customers and promote brand loyalty is an effective marketing tactic, retailers may want to rethink spending on social media to drive online sales.

With all the statistics above, it is clear that customers enthusiasm for Black Friday and Cyber Monday has reached its highest level this year. With the rise of ecommerce and growing customer satisfaction of shopping online, ecommerce is likely to see some new records in 2015. Here are some key takeaways for ecommerce retailers for the year 2015.

Key Takeaways:

  • Optimize your site for mobile users. Give them an effortless browsing experience on mobiles.

  • Discounts work wonders in increasing revenues. You may want to consider offering discounts earlier in the holiday season.

  • Personalize your email marketing efforts to gain maximum customer engagement and repeat customer visits on your site.

  • Rethink spending on social media marketing as it is proving to be less influential in driving sales.

Sources:

Practical Ecommerce: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Losing Mojo?

Forbes: Black Friday 2014 Biggest Online Shopping Day Ever

comScore’s press release on Cyber Monday 2014

MarketingCharts’s Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday E-Commerce Results

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How was the holiday season for you? Did you find this post helpful? Let me know in the comments below.

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