For a long time, Black Friday was the biggest shopping day of the year.
Consumers and businesses alike looked forward to it – businesses for the insane amount of money it brought in, and consumers for the insane deals they were able to scoop up if they were early enough or persistent enough.
But then Cyber Monday caught on as online retailers tried to cash in on the waning post-Thanksgiving shopping buzz and give consumers more deals to be excited about.
It started as something that people in the know whispered about – “There’s actually some pretty great deals online the Monday after Thanksgiving also” – and it became a legitimate Thing that brands started to organize and promote.
Now, marketers look at Cyber Monday as closely as they do Black Friday to learn lessons for getting more sales for their own brands. Here’s what Cyber Monday 2016 taught us:
Never mind its name: Cyber Monday goes on a lot longer than Monday now.
No longer just a day, Cyber Monday is more like Cyber Week if the momentum from this year keeps up.
This past season, we saw deals spread out throughout the week, both leading up to and following the official Monday shopping bonanza.
Brands realized that no longer are people heading into work to look for deals after hunkering down and avoiding crowded shopping malls all weekend long, but instead are using their smart phones and other mobile devices to browse for deals any time. They can shop from the comfort of their couches without having to arm wrestle a single shopper for the It Toy of the season.
Retailers like J.C. Penney, Target and Amazon officially branded their sales events as Cyber Week this year, making the move more formal. Wal-Mart actually started its “Cyber Monday” sale at midnight on Black Friday, and Amazon started its week-long sale on Friday, as well.
Most retailers employed some sort of incremental discounting structure, where certain days offered the best deals, while good discounts and special offers (like free shipping) could still be had on the other days.
Whether you’re talking about Black Friday, Cyber Monday or even Cyber Week, the day that sees the most sales during that post-holiday shopping period is actually Monday.
This year, about 122 million people shopped on Monday, and the sales topped numbers for every other day during the week. The numbers were pretty close between Friday and Monday, but Monday still edged out the winner.
Experts predict that these numbers may shift going forward, when the actual days become less important and deals are available throughout the week. For now, Monday is the clear winner for when to promote deals online.
Whether it was running out of stock or having the website crash from so much traffic, numerous retailers saw big outages this season.
For example, Banana Republic and Old Navy had outage messages on and off throughout the afternoon as the website struggled to manage all the traffic it got. Some customers just left the site never to return, and others complained on social media about the outages, giving the brands bad press.
You don’t have to be as big as these clothing retailers to experience these kinds of problems. Getting more traffic than you expect can send your website crashing for minutes or even hours, causing you untold lost sales. Make sure you are fully prepared before you jump into the deal-making bonanza post-Thanksgiving.
This year, smart phones generated 53 percent of online visits on Cyber Monday, and they accounted for 35 percent of sales overall on the day.
Mobile also saw a 53 percent rise in conversions over the previous year, and an almost 30 percent increase in the average sale.
There were also fewer cart abandonments overall with mobile shoppers this year.
Perhaps surprisingly, tablets did not perform nearly as well as smart phones, despite their larger screens and their increased ease of use. The reason seems to be that consumers favor the convenience of the devices they carry in their pockets every day, all the time.
Knowing this should cause brands to focus more on their mobile strategy for next year. That means optimizing their sites for mobile users, creating a specific ad and SEO campaign for mobile, and fine-tuning their shopping app for mobile.
You have a whole year until the next holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you should delay. Now is the time to start looking at what this year’s big shopping blowout should mean for your marketing strategy for next year.
Even if you don’t know what deals you plan to offer, you can start putting the infrastructure in place, such as prepping your mobile website and creating a timeline for events. You could have your biggest shopping day of the year if you do it right.