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Shopper Experience

Will a “Cyber 7” Weekend Kick Off Holiday eCommerce in 2018?

You have to get the holidays right. When so many shoppers are visiting your site during such a short time period, you need every offer and promotion timed correctly. Each slow third-party application or poor-performing API impacts a customer’s perception of your brand, as noted in a recent RetailDive article, 5 issues most likely to cause holiday eCommerce outages.

You must be sure that your entire team is ready to manage any issues (or opportunities) that arise. Marketing, merchandising, web operations, 3rd party vendors, etc. – anyone who is responsible for a part of your customer experience.

Do you know when to expect peaks in traffic, and are you prepared for them? We looked at last year’s holiday eCommerce traffic trends to see what retailers should be ready for this year.  

DATA SOURCE: The following charts are based on performance data collected from over 1,000 eCommerce sites running through the Yottaa eCommerce acceleration platform.

1. Thanksgiving shoppers start early. Really early.

As expected, last year Black Friday and Cyber Monday dominated the “Cyber5 Weekend” based on traffic. But when we expanded the time period out a day before and after, we found that shoppers weren’t satisfied waiting for the Black Friday sales (See Figure 1 below). In fact, Wednesday and Tuesday holiday eCommerce traffic was comparable to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday shopping traffic over the holiday. Apparently, work is no barrier to getting in a little holiday shopping.  

Takeaway: Prepare for a “Cyber 7” eCommerce holiday

Your holiday eCommerce site needs to be ready even earlier this year. Shoppers will be coming Wednesday through Tuesday, so make sure you have the right promotions in place to pull in these bookend shoppers!

Figure 1: 2017 Cyber 5 Traffic by Device

Holiday eCommerce traffic trends by device

2. Mobile shoppers will define your holiday.

Mobile device shoppers represented 42% of all holiday eCommerce traffic during the 7 days around Thanksgiving last year, narrowly losing to desktop traffic (48%). In fact, mobile traffic actually outpaced desktop traffic on Thanksgiving. Maybe Nielsen shouldn’t be counting all those viewers sitting in front of the football game – they are obviously occupying themselves in other ways.

This trend is consistent with what other IR 1000 retailers like 1-800 CONTACTS have reported about the importance of mobile traffic to their business.

Takeaway: Apply unique optimizations specifically for mobile visitors

Mobile shoppers need fast and easy shopping experiences. They often know what they want, and have less patience when waiting for a web page to load. Adopt a unique optimization strategy for your mobile site, so large images and 3rd party JavaScripts don’t slow your pages.

WEBINAR: Learn how retailers performed during the first holiday weekend in the Internet Retailer webinar on Dec. 4, “Cyber Five Insights: What We Learned from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

3. High volume + high variability = lost holiday orders

We’ve seen many websites lose a large number of orders during the holidays due to slow pages. This happens despite having fast average page load times. This is due to a high level of volatility in their website page load times. Many visitors experience blazing fast pages. However, many other visitors receive very slow pages, and it averages out to a decent average page load time.

The cost of this volatility becomes more pronounced during the holidays, because the volume of visitors grows, as does the volume of visitors experiencing slow pages. Research shows that visitors start to leave your website after waiting 3 seconds. This higher volume of slow pages costs you money regarding lost orders and wasted advertising dollars spent drawing visitors to your site.

Here is a figure showing the volatility of unoptimized websites during the 2017 Cyber 5 weekend. How many of those visitors on the high end do you think completed an order?

Figure 2: 2017 Cyber 5 traffic volatility

Holiday eCommerce traffic creates higher performance volatility


All retailers need to be optimizing their website pages this year to increase speed AND decrease volatility. The most frequent sources of holiday eCommerce performance volatility are the 3rd party applications embedded on eCommerce pages (ratings & reviews, ad tech, etc.).

Takeaway: Optimize your website to reduce volatility

Before you enter the holiday shopping melee, make sure you have systems in place to monitor volatility and optimize the 3rd party applications (ratings & reviews, ad tech, etc.) on your website. These 3rd parties are out of your control and can fail at any time, contributing to volatility. The right controls will ensure a faulty JavaScript doesn’t drive shoppers away from your site.


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