Every year something makes the holiday season a little unique – this time it’s the pandemic. Holiday shopping has seen some noteworthy shifts, some of them prompting vital takeaways especially from the Cyber Week. These range from some consumer segments buying online for the first time to others shopping online in a whole new category. According to Digital Commerce 360, projections online sales are expected to make up to 26.1% of the total retail sales in November and December. However, from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday has typically been the most crucial time for brands and retailers. Shoppers spent USD 34.4 billion during this period representing a 20.7% YoY increase. Here’s a quick snapshot of how each day fared.
This year has seen a massive and very rapid shift from offline to online. Cyber Monday was the largest spending online day in US history. Shoppers spent USD 10.8 billion just in that one day which beats last year’s USD 9.4 billion record.
To help brands and retailers sharpen their strategies for the post-pandemic future here are some key takeaways we’ve rounded up from the Cyber Week:
1. Prime Day induced early holiday shopping but still cut a smaller share of total traffic
While most large retailers said they would stay closed for the holiday season and take orders online instead, Amazon announced it would be pushing its Prime Day sales closer to the holiday season. Even though this year the online stalwart accounted for 40.6% of the top 100 web traffic of online sales during Prime Day, it was down from 49.3% in 2019.
This reflects that consumers view Prime Day not just limited to Amazon deals but as an opportunity to be spoilt for choice. Another interesting fact, data from Digital Commerce 360 points out is while Amazon claims a 30% share of the US e-commerce growth this year, though a substantial share, it has dipped from its 44% share in 2019. So while consumers didn’t restrict themselves to Amazon for their holiday shopping, Prime Day still carved a niche into segments that didn’t want to wait to purchase their gifts until the real holiday season kicked in.
2. Consumers made the most of early promotions to minimize order delays
Promotions have been making it in earlier every year. However, this time most retailers saved the best for the last – the Cyber Week. From Gamestop to Kohl’s, Target, Sears, and others almost all top retail websites displayed a Black Friday deal at the beginning of the week. One of the retailers used a countdown clock on their homepage to drive urgency making the last chance to grab a Black Friday deal, before Black Friday.
And shoppers did play into these strategies. Simply because one lesson that the pandemic drove home is to anticipate shipping delays. Consumers were worried about availability and accessibility to the products they wanted. They feared losing out on good deals to a lack of inventory. This was further confirmed by shipping and last-mile delivery solutions provider Convey. As the below chart denotes the week before Black Friday the total shipment volumes were 61% higher than the previous week.
3. Additional discounts turned curbside pickup and BOPIS into delivery favorites
A lot of retailers have realized the benefits of these two fulfillment options. Not only do they make shoppers feel safer (rather than visiting stores) and reduce the wait-time to receiving their packages, for retailers they are incredibly profitable logistically. It’s no surprise why Nordstrom offered a USD 15 gift card for shoppers who chose BOPIS or curbside as their fulfillment option. Buy Buy Baby employed the same strategy offering 20% off on orders.
Black Friday witnessed a spike of 52% YoY spike in curbside/BOPIS while Cyber Monday saw a YoY surge of 30% in takers for this last-mile option, according to Adobe. An unmissable takeaway from Cyber Week Salesforce stated was that players who offered such omnichannel services saw a 32% YoY revenue uptick than those who didn’t provide such options. The future, therefore, is inclined to favor retailers who have invested in integrated inventory management to make these fulfillment formats available.
4. Optimizing site performance was critical to maximize opportunity
This year Yottaa, an e-commerce site optimization platform stated that peak traffic was experienced on Black Friday at 12 pm, while last year it was on Cyber Monday at 9 am. Impeccable site speed and performance are highly crucial on these days. Slow page load times, losing some items or their entire carts, inability to checkout are all reasons prompting shoppers to voice these blips as bad experiences on social media.
Website violations like third party integrations hampering site performance translate to missed opportunity and hurt brand reputation. Another important takeaway from Cyber Week according to Yottaa is that more than 50 sites not fully geared to meet peak traffic spikes – a significant number considering some brands make about 40% of their annual revenue during this time. Virtual queues and site optimization technologies are a few proven ways helping iron out these inconsistencies.
5. Mobile continues to reign as a popular shopping device
While it may sound counter-intuitive to be shopping on mobile even though we are not on the go, it is a fact, according to Peter Sheldon Senior Director of Commerce Strategy at Adobe. The tradition of people getting on their devices post-Thanksgiving dinners can be seen as an evolution of “couch commerce.”
In an interview with Retail Touchpoints, Peter stated, “40% of all online sales took place on mobile over the holiday period and 60% of visits to retail sites came in from smartphones.” With smaller gatherings, the pandemic has compelled most people to connect virtually via social networks which intuitively happens via mobile devices.
Given that, consumers are bound to browse and shop more via their smartphones. Adobe also observed mobile having its highest conversion rate of 3.05% on Black Friday, while laptops and other devices clocking in 6.82% of the conversions, showing mobile to be responsible for almost 50% of all sales generated on that day.
With the table stakes across the e-commerce experience continuously rising, even the largest retailers can’t afford to rest on their laurels. A constant pulse of the market and insight into what’s working and what’s not for their competitors will give retailers and brands a strategic edge in navigating the rest of the holiday season and beyond.
For over two decades Netscribes has helped leading brands and retailers answer their global research, digital marketing, and support service needs with comprehensive e-commerce solutions. Connect with us to know how we can help you meet and exceed your business and sales goals.