Black Friday and Cyber Monday: What have we learned?

Boxing Day was once the time for shopping deals to be found, but that has changed. Black Friday, once a one day tradition for bargains, now stretches from American Thanksgiving until the following Monday, now referred to as Cyber Monday.

Black Friday continues to be a day when American suspend their Thanksgiving weekend food comas for a few hours in order to grab great holiday shopping bargains. And since it’s getting even easier to shop at home or on the go, mobile has become the new darling for shoppers intent on scoring great deals. Extend it to Cyber Monday and it’s a retailer’s dream.

Cyber Monday, however, exhibits its own unique traits outside of Black Friday. Starting with the fact that it’s outpacing the main shopping holiday in savings, Cyber Monday saw more Editors’ Choice deals than Black Friday in both 2014 and 2013.

“The numbers are amazing, but having seen the mayhem on the high street it doesn’t surprise me that figures are higher than expected,” says Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG.

The Black Friday season is like the Olympics, with different shopping events on each shopping holiday. Where Thanksgiving and Black Friday are better for electronics, Cyber Monday shines in soft goods; clothes and shoes are especially awesome buys, with retailers busting out Black Friday-beating coupons in several cases.

So how have Black Friday and Cyber Monday changed the US retail landscape? In the following infographic from Carvaka Adult Toys, they shows the retail impact from these two shopping holidays and how retailers will suffer if they’re not prepared for the demands of consumers. Take a look at some surprising stats below:

Infographic: How Black Friday and Cyber Monday have changed the US retail landscape

How Black Friday and Cyber Monday have changed the US retail landscape

Black Friday is the first Friday after US Thanksgiving, when stores launch their seasonal special offers to tempt Christmas shoppers.

Cyber Monday is the Monday that follows. The term was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation to encourage people to shop online. Cyber Monday is bigger than them all for US consumers—Cyber Monday 2016 saw consumers spending US$3.45 billion.

Black Friday 2014

  • Toys’R’Us, BrandsMart, IKEA, CVS and Lowe’s saw the biggest traffic increases.
  • Black Friday 2014 was the most social ever, with more than 2 million Twitter conversations in the seven-day lead up. That’s more than twice the number from 2013.
  • 2 percent of online sales (US$74.6 million) came directly from social media.
  • Email marketing was the primary channel driving consumer conversions, accounting for 27.3 percent of sales.

Cyber Monday 2014

  • Total online US sales were $2.65 billion. This was a 16 percent increase compared to 2013.
  • 19% of total online sales (US$328 million) were driven by mobile devices, the same as in 2013.
  • The top 25 retailers, who each generated US$30 million or more on Cyber Monday, saw online sales grow by 25 percent capturing nearly $1.8 billion.

The winners

  1. On Cyber Monday, Amazon vendors sold 16 million items.
  2. Walmart stores had its biggest eCommerce day ever on Cyber Monday, though it didn’t qualify as a success. Walmart in particular measured spectacular mobile figures with a reported 70 percent of traffic over Thanksgiving weekend from mobile devices.
  3. Record sales on on Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday were up 40 percent from 2013. Black Friday weekend purchases made via mobile phones were 2 times higher than 2013.

“Some retailers like Amazon planned promotions well in advance. Others were sucked in when they saw the scale of Black Friday… Those retailers ended up losing margin as they typically went for a percentage cut across numerous or even all lines, rather than having planned promotions that they could have organized with the help of their suppliers,” said Patrick O’Brien, Retail Analyst at Verdict Retail.

Key learnings for online retailers

Of all the things Black Friday does represent, a great customer experience isn’t one of them. Website design, ease of navigation and onsite search are paramount for helping prepare websites for heightened traffic during the holiday season.

The bigger you are, the more infrastructure you require to deliver content to users. Thus the amount of things that can go wrong increases as well. Failure is going to happen, but how you react is important. Staples had been suffering from partial outages and slowness throughout Cyber Monday 2014, but utilized a solid error screen that linked to their weekly ad and provided a phone number for customer service. When your site is down or slow, someone else’s is up. That means your customers may go there rather than dealing with the frustration of poor performance.

With such a clear trend indicating that mobile devices have become the most important for users to browse for deals, brands need to deliver an exceptional mobile experience.

Email marketing offers the ability to combine customer data and personalization. When combined with the attractive deals of Cyber Week, it offers a powerful incentive for consumers to buy.

The deals are stretching longer

Black Friday could be getting a little bit greyer due to people that don’t dive in head first, instead choosing to spread their shopping over several days during the entire holiday season.

Green Monday—the second Monday in December—has become the highest online sales day for the month of December. Some people jump in early and shop on Thanksgiving Day with online purchases as most stores still opt to close on the holiday. Still, others took advantage of Amazon’s Prime Day in July to grab big bargains, generating almost $1 billion in sales.

For more on how people are shopping for the holidays, check out what shoppers want and where they want to get it.