November 28, 2011, 12:16 PM

A strong pace for Cyber Monday

E-retailers say sales are up as consumers flock online to snag money-saving deals.

Lead Photo

Coming off a strong holiday weekend for online sales, e-retailers say today’s sales are moving well ahead of last year’s pace.

As of 9 a.m. Central time, specialty retailer eBags.com co-founder Peter Cobb says sales today were up 33.7% versus the same time on the Monday following Thanksgiving last year. As of 11 a.m., the IBM Benchmark survey reported online sales were up 20% over the same timeframe last year for the approximately 500 retailers the survey tracks. By 2 p.m. sales had slowed a bit, with the IBM Benchmark survey reporting Cyber Monday sales were tracking at 15% ahead of the same day last year.

Howard Wyner, CEO of perfume e-retailer Scentiments.com, No. 446 in Internet Retailer's Top 500 Guide, says sales today were up 40% versus last year as of noon today, noting that consumers are responding to the e-retailer's promotions this year, which today include a 10% site-wide discount and free shipping with no minimum order. Wyner says today’s strong performance follows a similarly strong holiday weekend for Scentiments.com, where order volume was up 18% and average order value was up 10.5% from the same weekend last year. “Clearly consumers are going to reward those web sites that are offering value, including value-added offerings,” he says.

Joshua Wood, vice president of operations at pet and general merchandise e-retailer Ozbo.com, No. 501 in Internet Retailer's Second 500 Guide, says order volume today is moving at a pace that will net the e-retailer twice as many orders as the same-day last year. At specialty apparel e-retailer ScotteVest, No. 651, sales are tracking 75% higher than Cyber Monday last year and were up 38% year-over-year yesterday, says CEO Scott Jordan, adding that sales over the last week were "much better" than the same time last year. Fruit and gift e-retailer HaleGroves.com, a division of No. 588-ranked Southern Fulfillment Services LLC, said this afternoon that sales were on track to increase 25% year over year. Flash-sale e-retailer ideeli.com, No. 310, said Cyber Monday sales were up 36% as of 2 p.m.

More than half of U.S. adults, or 52.4%, will shop online today, up from 46.0% last year, according to a survey conducted among 3,800 consumers this weekend for Shop.org, the e-retail arm of the National Retail Federation trade group. Industry analysts expect consumers to spend at least $1.200 billion online today, up from the $1.028 billion spent last year, according to comScore Inc. ComScore says U.S. consumers have spent $12.7 billion online from Nov. 1 through Nov. 25.

As of this morning, more than half of the top search terms on the Google search engine were related to Cyber Monday, Google Inc. says. At 11 a.m., traffic to retail sites in North America was 43% greater than the Monday following Thanksgiving last year, according to the Net Usage Index for Retail from Akamai Technologies, a web hosting firm.

Online marketing firm ChannelAdvisor reported a 40% year-over-year increase in sales for its clients as of 11 a.m. today. Same-seller sales increased 51% on Amazon and 17% on eBay. For clients whose search marketing programs ChannelAdvisor manages, sales were up 39% from the same timeframe last year; and sales from comparison shopping engines for ChannelAdvisor clients were up 13%.

Online marketing firm Mercent reported that Cyber Monday sales were up 37% as of 8 a.m. today for its clients. CEO Eric Best says that e-retailers' heavy promotional activities today will most likely make it one of the season's peak sales days, but cautions that e-retailers not minimize what's to happen in the weeks between now and Dec. 25. He also expects heavy promotional activity to occur the second Monday in December (Dec. 12), traditionally a peak sales day as e-retailers run offers to claim sales before pulling free shipping offers. "No matter how large Cyber Monday and Dec. 12 are, those two days combined are still a very small portion of overall holiday volume," Best says. "Every other shopping day between now and Dec. 25 still matters and its what e-retailers do on those non-peak days that will determine their season."   

The afternoon report from IBM also said that 12.43% of site traffic was coming from mobile devices, such as web-enabled smartphones and tablet computers, and 7.37% of consumers were completing purchases on mobile devices. Ideeli.com said about 20% of its traffic today was coming from mobile devices, and payment service PayPal said its mobile payment volume was up 514% from Cyber Monday last year as of 1 p.m. 

E-retailers are drawing consumers with site-wide percent-off deals and free shipping offers this morning. EBags.com, for example, is offering 30% off site-wide and free shipping for orders of $75 or more. EBags.com is No. 114 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. AnnTaylor.com, a division of No. 95 Ann Inc., is offering 50% off site-wide and free shipping on all orders with no minimum. Apparel retailer J. Crew (No. 50) is offering 25% off all merchandise and free shipping on all orders. Apparel and outdoor gear retailer Sierra Trading Post (No. 88) is taking 20% off orders of $100 or more, and 35% off all orders of $125 or more, plus free shipping.

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