November 8, 2006, 12:00 AM

Cyber Monday gets peak holiday traffic–but eDay rings up the most sales

Based on last year’s patterns, retailers should prepare for peak online traffic the Monday after Thanksgiving, but optimize for highest sales on “eDay,” Dec. 4, says Coremetrics.

So-called “Cyber Monday,” the term coined by Shop.org to designate the first Monday after Thanksgiving, represents the highest online traffic day of the holiday shopping season, but those site visitors include a whole lot of window shoppers. Many don’t open their wallets until a week later, according to data from web analytics company Coremetrics Inc. The highest online sales day won’t come until Dec. 4, Coremetrics reports.

Coremetrics is basing its forecast on holiday 2005 data from its LIVE Mark benchmarking service, which tracks and indexes metrics at 200 leading e-commerce brands, as well as year-to-date data. Online sales on Dec. 4-which the analytics firm has dubbed “eDay” for this year-will be 19% higher than sales it’s forecasting for Cyber Monday. Overall, Coremetrics forecasts that online retail sales will be up 16% this holiday season over last year.

SkyMall, a multichannel direct marketer, reports that Coremetrics’ data last year revealed that its eDay sales were 22% larger than its sales on Cyber Monday. “Armed with this data, we were better able to prepare for creative and timing of our 2006 holiday campaigns and anticipate we will capture the interest of our core target audience at just the right time to maximize sales this year,” says Art Apostol, SkyMall`s director of marketing.

Beyond eDay, Coremetrics is forecasting the next four largest days for online retail sales will be one week after eDay (Dec. 11), the Wednesday after eDay (Dec. 6), the Tuesday after eDay (Dec. 5), and the Tuesday that falls one week after eDay (Dec. 12). To capitalize on those predicted sales lifts, Coremetrics recommends that during the weeks before and after eDay, retailers should launch personalized e-mail campaigns, boost paid search daily budgets and bids, and optimize shopping comparison site placements.

Exactly one week after eDay, marketers should use the same channels to communicate a sense of urgency and drive customers to shop prior to inventory limitations, higher shipment costs or holiday shipment cut-off dates, Coremetrics says. Two weeks after eDay, the firm recommends, online retailers should highlight the store finder feature, in-store pick-up and in-store promotions to drive sales from last minute shoppers who don’t want to risk shipping delays. That’s also the time to dial paid search daily budgets and per-click bids back to pre-holiday levels.

“Our holiday forecast is intended to help e-commerce merchants optimize returns from the 2006 holiday shopping season by highlighting peak traffic and order value patterns, enabling them to build up to eDay for maximum impact,” says Coremetrics CEO Joe Davis.

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