Four Lessons from Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2014
And, they’re off! The two biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are already in the books. Now, retailers face a month-long sprint to the 2014 holiday shopping finish line, just several weeks away.
For many companies, the holiday season represents a frantic make-or-break period to hit revenue goals for the entire year. So, what do early indications from Black Friday and Cyber Monday reveal about the overall holiday shopping outlook in 2014?
The Decline of Black Friday
Overall, Black Friday in 2014 was a major bust for retailers. The National Retail Federation reports in-store shoppers declined 5% compared with last year, and overall spending was down 11%.
Experts point to an expanded holiday sales season as cause for Black Friday’s single-day slump. Black Friday-type promotions begin in early November and run through the entire holiday season. A telling study from Accenture reveals that 70% of consumers say Black Friday is meaningless because there will be more sales throughout the holidays.Shoppers are just no longer convinced that the best deals are found on Black Friday alone, and they are correct.
Cyber Monday Grows, But More Slowly
In recent years, Cyber Monday has surged to replace Black Friday’s prominence in the holiday shopping season. This year, Cyber Monday sales grew again, but at a slowed pace. Early data indicates that Cyber Monday Sales were up, but by how much? Well, that depends on whom you ask.
- IBM reports sales up 8.5% compared to 2013.
- Adobe‘s estimate is higher, $2.65 billion in sales, a 16% increase over last year.
It’s too early to determine who’s data is more accurate. However, the overall trend indicates an healthy increase in sales on Cyber Monday, with a major uptick in shopper’s usage of mobile devices. Despite good numbers for Cyber Monday, gains did not exceed expectations of many industry analysts (especially if IBM’s more conservative outlook proves accurate). The story is similar to Black Friday – online shoppers took advantage of early deals and spent big in the weeks leading up to Cyber Monday. This diminished sales on Cyber Monday itself.
Four Early Lessons for eCommerce
Yes, single-day statistics for Black Friday and Cyber Monday fell short of expectations in 2014, but don’t panic! The holiday shopping season still presents huge opportunity for retailers, particularly in eCommerce. For retailers, it is imperative to swiftly learn from consumer behavior and to leverage those lessons in the future.
- Unite In-Store & Online Experiences: A big winner in 2014 is WalMart. The retail giant reported an astonishing 1.5 billion page views over the weekend, with an astounding 70% of traffic coming from mobile. Many shoppers used WalMart’s app to order merchandise for easy in-store pickup, sometimes purchasing additional items upon arrival at WalMart locations.
- Plan for the Season not the Day: A protracted holiday season makes it difficult for retailers to score quick wins. Consumers have time and tools to research and compare prices before purchases are made. Thus, retailers must be vigilant throughout the holiday season and meet consumer expectations to win business.
- Avoid Outages at all Costs: Virgin America could have been the envy of everyone on Cyber Monday. An email promotion for discounted flights sent droves to the Virgin website. Unfortunately for Virgin, the traffic surge crashed the website. By the time service was restored, the promotion had expired causing many to vent frustrations via Twitter. Major retail sites like Hewlett-Packard and Best Buy also saw significant outages over the weekend.
- Mobile Shoppers are Still on the Rise: IBM’s Cyber Monday data reported mobile as 41.2% of all online traffic. Also, mobile sales reached 22% of total Cyber Monday online sales, a huge increase of 27.6% year-over-year. Clearly, it’s important to plan a mobile-first strategy.