Cyber Monday Unlikely to Disappear

By May 2, 2013eCommerce
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Cyber Monday is in the rear view mirror for yet another year.

The pre-event media hype didn’t seem nearly as crazy as in previous years but like the opening weekend for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 1, the numbers look good. Simply, sales were way up over 2009. A little background to start.

As you may recall (if you’ve been anywhere near the ecommerce trenches), the National Retail Federation (NRF) in the United States unveiled Cyber Monday in 2005 as a hugely successful PR pitch that the American media jumped on. The idea was that people would return to work after doing lots of brick and mortar shopping during the Thanksgiving sales and take advantage on Monday of broadband connections at work to do lots of online shopping. The media lapped it up.

With consumers having widely adopted broadband connectivity at their homes, the “shop from work” concept is somewhat outdated. Fast-loading pages no longer elicit the oohs and ahhs they once did. But the Cyber Monday promotion has taken root.

It’s the Promotions, Silly

Acute consumer shopping activity on this day has become a well-established part of the November retailing calendar. Retailers, large and small, now run a wide variety of Cyber Monday promotions. (The NRF surveyed its membership prior to Thanksgiving and announced that 88% had planned to run some kind of  Cyber Monday promotion). No wonder, then, that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for online retailers.

So what were the 2010 sales numbers? Let’s look at data from Internet tracking firm comScore?

  • Thanksgiving Day (a traditionally slow day for ecommerce sales): $407 million (28 percent increase from 2009)
  • Black Friday (Friday, Nov. 26): $648 million (9 percent increase from 2009)
  • Cyber Monday: $1.03 billion (9 percent increase from 2009)

That’s a pretty steep slope upwards to the right.

What It  Means

1. Visa and MasterCard have done a fantastic job in the last decade of reducing consumer fears about the security of online shopping.

2. These three sales days are driven by price-centric selling and price-driven shopping. If you can’t afford to compete in the “lowest price” arena, you might want to lower your sales expectations, or implement a different sales strategy.

3. Emphasize something other than price. Do you offer something else other than the lowest price? Is customer service, product selection, delivery, technical support, or product exclusivity one or more of your strengths? Emphasize those.

4. Use email marketing campaigns and sales promotions that create and emphasize scarcity and urgency.

As a retailer, your Cyber Monday strategy really needs to incorporate the realties of your business, operational efficiencies, pricing models and December sales and marketing strategies. Competing for that low-margin sale might not be the right move.

Notwithstanding everything, I’m pretty sure that Cyber Monday is going to stick around for many years and become as established in the United States as Boxing Day sales n December 26 are for Canadians.

Thinking of replacing that aging TV with a nice 55″ flat panel? You might want to wait until Monday, November 28, 2011 when I can guarantee they will again be on sale.

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