Cyber Monday, Black Friday break online sales records

Online sales increasingly coming from mobile phones in 2019.

Cyber Monday and Black Friday 2019 have officially broke new online sales records.

According to figures from Adobe Analytics, online sales for Cyber Monday totaled $9.4 billion, up by $1.5 billion compared to 2018.

Of this amount, nearly $3 billion came in the form of mobile orders.

Black Friday did not fail to impress either, with online sales hitting $7.4 billion in the USA, up by $1.2 billion year-on-year.

A total of $2.9 billion came from sales made on smartphones on Black Friday.

The new figures point to a few trends emerging in eCommerce that marketers should be aware of.

1. The rise of mCommerce

mCommerce, short for mobile commerce, is growing at a tremendous rate and outstripping the rate at which eCommerce is growing in comparison to traditional retail.

According to SalesForce, more than half of Black Friday purchases were made on a mobile device.

Moreover, up to 76% of digital traffic during the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend came from mobile devices, and 60% of shopping on Thanksgiving Day was done on mobile.

"You know, the store is certainly not dead. But consumers are drawn to digital for the convenience, for the ease, the access," Salesforce Vice President of Industry and Strategy Rob Garf said in an interview commenting this year's Black Friday results.

2. Better phones are driving the change

In previous years, mobile shopping was held back because our mobile phones were limited. Smaller screens made it difficult to display big pictures of items, entering in credit card information was annoying on mobile.

But smart phones have been improving massively in the last few years. Password managers have reduced the checkout process to a few simple clicks with stored credit card info.

Mobile phones now come with large screens, and retailers have responded to this growing mobile traffic by optimizing their websites and making it easier for consumers to buy items while using their phone.

"The phone is, to my opinion, the remote control of our daily lives...there was a lot of friction - let's face it, it was really clunky to buy on your phone for a lot of the time. And now retailers have really smoothed out the friction between inspiration and purchase on the mobile device," Garf said.

Second, although new online sales records were set, they fell short of estimates by eMarketer and SalesForce, which indicates that consumer spending may not be as strong in 2019 compared with the previous year.

3. Global issues worrying American consumers

While online sales records were broken on both Black Friday anad Cyber Monday, they fell significantly short of estimates by eMarketer and SalesForce, indicating that consumer spending may not be as strong going into Christmas in 2019 as it was in the previous year.

An eMarketer report from last month broke down the factors pushing and pulling consumer spending in 2020.

Factors indicating that 2019 would be a strong holiday season included:

  • a strong economy
  • low unemployment rates
  • strong stock market gains
  • rising salaries

At the same time, global concerns were putting a damper on consumer spending, including:

  • lingering fears of an upcoming recession
  • stock market volatility
  • fallout from a trade war with China and tarriffs.

When adding up the results for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it looks like these latter factors are indeed keeping Americans from spending as hardly as they did in 2018.

Another factor that will hold back sales in 2019 is the shortened holiday season. This is pushing retailers to give deals earlier than usual.

Black Friday, which is usually considered the start of the holiday shopping season, was ignored by many of the major retailers who offered their Black Friday deals well in advance of the official day. These included Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy.

As TechCrunch points out: “Retailers unlocked sales earlier to combat a shorter shopping season, while continuing to drive up promotion of the big branded days including Black Friday and Cyber Monday...consumers capitalized on deals and ramped up spending, especially on smartphones, where activity increased on days when shoppers were snowed or rained in."

4. Small online retailers are being pushed out

According to Adobe Analytics, the average order value on Black Friday increased by nearly 6% to $168.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that small retailers are likely not seeing a benefit from this increase.

While major retailers with revenue of $1 billion annual have seen sales go up 71% this year, smaller retailers’ have grown by just 32%.

Smaller retailers are simply finding it much harder to meet consumer expectations with regard to shipping times and product offers.

Both Amazon and Walmart gave public promises of 1-day delivery times going into the 2019 holiday season and smaller retailers are struggling to match such speed.

Consumers also increasingly leave their holiday shopping until the last minute, meaning reatilers unable to ship items on time for Christmas will likely see many users back out of the checkout process.

As things currently stand, while online sales are growing tremendously, and mobile phones are becoming the main device used to buy items online, it is really only the big players that are benefiting, such as Amazon, eBay, Best Buy, Walmart and others.

Amazon, for example, reported on its website that Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day in the company's history, claiming that hundreds of millions of products had been ordered by shoppers between Thanksgiving and Monday.

How marketers can take advantage of holiday shopping going into Christmas

While the biggest shopping weekend is behind us, there are still many shoppers that ignore the sales on Cyber Monday and Black Friday and wait until before Christmas to do their shopping.

There are several things marketers can do to market correctly for the rest of the holiday shopping season in 2019.

1. Optimize websites for mobile

With so much traffic and so many purchases made on smartphones, a mobile friendly website is imperative in order to get people to buy products from you.

Online retailers need to make sure that the checkout process is as simple as possible, and that products can be easily displayed not just on desktop, but smartphones too.

2. Advertise on Amazon, Walmart

Shoppers are turning to the platforms where they can get their items the fastest, and as a result, large retailers are seeing the main benefits from the increased holiday shopping.

Large retailers can give bigger discounts, they have a larger range of items, and they are more flexible when it comes to delivery. For example, the trend of 'buy onilne, pick up in-store' went up 43% over the last year, according to Adobe.

The major online retailers like Amazon are getting increasingly involved in the advertising business and this encouraging online shopping.

According to Adobe, paid search accounted for 24.4% of sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is up 5% compared to 2018, and more than three percentage points higher than actual direct traffic, which came in at 21.2% and is fast declining.

Organic search accounted for 18.8% of sales, while email accounted for 16.8%, up 8% compared to 2018.

Social media performed the worst when it came to driving online sales, hitting just 2.6%. But it still drives 8% of site visits, up 17.5% from a year ago.

Given these numbers, it is clear marketers should take advantage of new advertising options that have become available on Amazon, as well as use Google's new advertising offers such as Google Shopping to get their ads to the most costumers.

3. Check the weather forecast

This year's shopping season may get a boost from the bad weather, with several major storms lingering in different regions of the USA. When extreme weather hits cities, shoppers tend to stay indoors and shop online. Make sure to be extra aggressive with your online campaigns on days the weather is bad.

As Taylor Schreiner, principle analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights put it: “Online shopping received some unexpected boosts this holiday season. Retailer fears of a shorter season meant that deals came much sooner than usual, and consumers took notice. In some areas of the country, adverse weather in the form of snow and heavy rain meant that many opted to stay home instead and grabbed the best deals online."

4. Use ad management systems

For PPC managers and agencies that juggle several clients and large accounts with several campaigns, using PPC software that automizes as many aspects of PPC management as possible could be the difference between having a mediocre holiday sales season and an outstanding one.

Effective ad management services automize the repetitive, mundane PPC tasks that take up too much time for the average PPC manager, such as checking ad budget spend and creating ad groups. Leaving these tasks to machines and freeing up more time for creative and strategy is a sure-fire strategy to make the most of holiday sales this season.

Try Aori

Want to make the most of the holiday season this year with your PPC campaigns? Check out our smart advertising solutions to see how Aori's PPC software can help you manage your campaigns faster and more effectively.

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