Cyber Monday may be fading

So, enjoy Cyber Monday (if that’s the idea) while you can. A number of people who think about these things think its days could be numbered.

Hilary Milnes, writing on Bostlnno, points out what many have been talking about this holiday shopping season: The season is flattening out, with shoppers taking to stores and the Web earlier and more often. And no doubt, consumers’ diffuse shopping habits will eventually take some of the bounce out of Cyber Monday. But I’d also point to another factor eroding the importance of Cyber Monday: The rapid rise of shopping on mobile devices.

Cyber Monday, remember, started because people would return to the office after the long holiday weekend and go to work hunting on their desktops for the bargains they missed on Black Friday. (Sorry, boss.) But now online shoppers are no longer tethered to their desks.

You needn’t look beyond the Thanksgiving weekend we all just enjoyed for evidence.

Consumers did indeed head for the mall and fire up the laptops before, during and after Thanksgiving dinner, but the big story was mobile. In looking at Thanksgiving e-commerce sales, IBM said sales were up nearly 14.3 percent this year over last. More significantly, according to IBM, mobile accounted for more than half of Thanksgiving’s online traffic. It was the first time mobile passed the 50 percent mark, IBM said, adding that mobile traffic increased 22.4 percent over last year.

Mobile is feeding an impressive online boom, as evidenced by a couple of nuggets unearthed by Reuters: First, Wal-Mart Stores reported that Thursday was its second busiest day online ever (second to last year’s Cyber Monday). And Target announced that Thursday was a record online day.

Custora, a New York-based retail analytics firm, says its figures show a 20 percent increase in online orders on Thanksgiving compared to last year, thanks in part to mobile shopping. In fact, mobile shopping accounted for a third of Thanksgiving Day e-commerce, up from 20 percent last year, the company said. IBM’s figures showed that smartphones drive traffic and tablets drive sales. For instance, phones accounted for 36.4 percent of online traffic on Thanksgiving, about twice what tablets drove. Tablets, however, accounted for nearly 18 percent of online sales, while phones accounted for 14.4 percent.

Custora also found that the average order value was down a tick (1.7 percent) on Thanksgiving, a trend it attributed to aggressive discounts and which IBM has said shows that consumers are increasingly savvy and comfortable with online coupons and promotions.

And how about this Custora stunner: More than 78 percent of mobile shopping was done on Apple devices. Stores were certainly crowded on Thanksgiving judging from this Denver shopper who described the shopping scene as a “war zone.” So yeah, this shopping on the last Thursday of November has truly become a thing. Somebody really should come up with a name for it. Oh yeah, we’ve got one: Thanksgiving.

And what comes after Thanksgiving? No, not Christmas, silly. Black Friday. Sure, word on the street was that Black Friday might be a little sluggish this year, given the big push to get shoppers into stores and on to the Web on Thanksgiving. But there were anecdotal reports of robust crowds. The numbers, of course are still coming in, but IBM’s mid-day Black Friday report says online sales are up 8 percent from Thanksgiving night through 3 p.m. Eastern time over a year ago.

If you’re retail geek like we are, you might get a real kick out of Big Blue’s Experience One Benchmark Live, which tracks real-time online shopping by analyzing billions of e-commerce transactions at a number (IBM doesn’t say how many) of U.S. websites. The first thing you’ll notice is that mobile users appear to be real night owls — or maybe just digital shoppers in general. Mobile sales show a spike between about 12:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., just as desktop is taking a somewhat corresponding dip. (One note: The times are reported as Pacific Time, though the data is collected across the United States.) Lastly, for better or worse (looking a little for worse at the moment), it seems the U.S. has succeeded in exporting Black Friday to the United Kingdom — complete with the sort of in-store madness that from time to time has given Black Friday a black eye.

 

Photo illustration by ezmaal, published under a Creative Commons license 

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

 

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