Extreme shopping has evolved from a Black Friday sprint to a Cyber Week marathon as retailers extend deep discounts further into the holiday season. A December 2, 2014, report by IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark tracked sales in the five-day span between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, comparing this year's consumer transactional data against the same period last year.
Jay Henderson, Director of IBM Smarter Commerce saw the expanding length of the holiday shopping season as favorable to consumers and retailers, "making it easier for consumers to find the best deals on the go, whenever and wherever they chose to shop."
According to the report, Cyber Monday dominated the field, beating Black Friday sales by 30.5 percent and holding its lead as the busiest day of the five-day shopping period, with sales totals up 8.5 percent compared to 2013. Overall e-commerce volume grew 12.6 percent in 2014.
The exponential growth of e-commerce is not limited to the U.S. borders; it has become a global phenomenon. A Google survey revealed that Canadian consumers spent $18.9 billion online in 2013, and a significant increase is expected in 2014. One in three Canadians surveyed buy gifts online, a 50 percent increase over last year.
IBM's study also found that Cyber Monday is becoming increasingly mobile, with mobile devices accounting for 41.2 percent of overall sales traffic and 22 percent of online sales, and predominantly transacted on iOS devices with a better than two-to-one ratio of iOS to Android users.
In addition, while Black Friday volumes lagged behind Cyber Monday, its $129.37 average ticket was 4.2 percent higher than Cyber Monday's $124.11 per order. And while smartphones accounted for 28.5 percent of Cyber Monday traffic, tablets had 41.5 percent more mobile sales and a 22 percent higher average ticket of $121.49 per order compared with $99.61 for smartphone users.
IBM also evaluated Facebook and Pinterest activity, noting an average ticket price of $97.78 per order at Pinterest and $123.44 at Facebook.
Michael Hussy, Chief Executive Officer at StatSocial, suggested consumer profiles and preferences tend to differ in online versus offline retail environments.
"With more holiday shoppers shifting their gift buys to online sales, it's more important than ever for retailers to know the difference between their online and offline customers," Hussy said. "Social media advertising gives retailers unprecedented abilities to target the right people at the right time. But to target the right people, you first have to know who you are looking for."
The retail community will continue to leverage transactional data derived from real-time analytics to improve performance and optimize consumer engagement. New York-based mediaspa is a full service e-commerce agency specializing in benchmarking, analytics and testing for leading consumer brands. Managing Partner Gary Benerofe believes continuous multivariate testing is as a baseline requirement for today's retailers.
"During this holiday push we are seeing that our clients with solid CRO [Conversion Rate Optimization] strategies in place are poised to capitalize on learnings from the preceding months, whereas those who have not prioritized testing are just hoping for the best," Benerofe said. "By this time next year, we expect many more retailers to be further up the testing learning curve."
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