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Commentary: Record-Breaking Sales During Cyber Week Holiday Reveal Key Insights for Retailers


By Bruce Ernst, Monetate

Consumers weren’t the only ones who were busy browsing gifts during Cyber Week 2014. In fact, the kickoff to this year’s holiday shopping season saw many retailers staying up late to unwrap key customer insights based on the valuable data being generated by online shoppers.

According to comScore, retailers drove a whopping $6.6 billion in sales during Cyber Week 2014 – up 24% from last year. (Here at Monetate, we’re proud to report that our technology influenced one in every three dollars spent.)

After analyzing the data, our team of experts distilled the pivotal trends that developed throughout the week. If you’re a retailer making resolutions for a more profitable 2015 – or if you’re a consumer wishing for more personalized experiences – I encourage you to read on, for you might find that the New Year has arrived early.

Shoppers are moving online

Even though brick-and-mortar stores launched seasonal promotions earlier this year and stayed open even later during the holiday rush, more shoppers chose to stay home with their families on Thanksgiving weekend.

Retailers offered online promotions for extended windows of time, enabling shoppers to take advantage of deep discounts at any hour of any day – instead of relying on store hours and being limited to shorter-timeframe deals.

Interestingly, when examining online average order values (AOVs), they started high on Thanksgiving ($179.59) and then dipped gradually over the weekend, from Black Friday ($163.49) through Saturday ($150.77) and Sunday ($136.20), until finally regaining ground on Cyber Monday ($145.99).

By delivering personalized experiences via the right channels, retailers can empower shoppers to cut through the noise and purchase desired items at a fraction of the original cost. It’s expected that this unprecedented era of ecommerce sales will continue to sustain itself throughout the 2014 holiday season.

Mobile is skyrocketing

With smartphone screens growing, and with mobile wallet options such as Apple Pay gaining popularity, it might come as no surprise that consumers are now more comfortable than ever with buying – not just browsing – on their mobile devices.

Our own predictions were confirmed during Cyber Week 2014 as mobile traffic increased more than 50% mobile purchases increased more than 45% and mobile revenue increased more than 20% over 2013. No small feat.

Taking note of these impressive gains, retailers will place even greater emphasis on mobile as a viable channel when building out their digital marketing strategies for 2015. In order for these strategies to be successful, however, marketers must have a very keen understanding of customer behavior. Mobile experiences must be personalized and optimized to drive the greatest benefit for the brand.

While it’s true that mobile is the shiny new object, marketers mustn’t forget about old hats like desktops and laptops, which still managed to claim the majority of traffic and sales. Desktops in particular drove more than 55% of traffic and 73% of online sales with an AOV of $156.72 (but this is up just 0.2% from last year).

Cyber Monday reigns supreme

Beating out both Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year, Cyber Monday became the single largest online shopping day in history, racking up $2 billion in sales and marking a 17 percent boost from 2013, per comScore.

By the end of the week, Cyber Monday reigned supreme with the highest conversion rate of 5.30%. It also outperformed Black Friday in terms of sheer sessions by 23.1%.

Overall, this day yielded noteworthy growth in a handful of areas. Smartphones accounted for 16.5% of all online traffic (up 41% year over year), whereas tablets designated 16.9 percent (up 13.4% year over year). Meanwhile, combined mobile purchases from smartphones and tablets comprised 20.53% of all online sales (up 46.86% year over year).

Make no mistake: non-smartphones should not be forgotten. Combined mobile traffic from traditional phones and tablets, however, represented 33.39% (up 40.16% year over year).

It’s all about the customer

As digital technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate, retailers must focus on how it’s impacting the daily lives of consumers. We’re at the vanguard of a new frontier, capable of cultivating and delivering personalized customer experiences that serve each unique individual. By relentlessly mining data, interpreting findings and deriving key takeaways, marketers will gain a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not, and ultimately put themselves in a better position to demonstrate that the brand is listening in 2015.

Bruce Ernst is VP, product management at Monetate. He has more than 20 years of experience in applying strategic plans to immediate execution as well as communicating complex technology solutions in a simple and straightforward manner.
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