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Holidays equal paydays for e-retailers
Online sales are up, but consumer buying patterns vary widely.
Managing Editor, International Research
Topics: Adobe, Bizrate, Braintree, Build.com, Carolina Rustica, Chase, Clash Group, Cyber Monday, e-commerce spending, Fab.com, Forrester, Google Shopping, holiday shopping, IBM, International Council of Shopping Centers, LivingSocial, m-commerce, mobile commerce, retail chains, Second 500, Top 500, Wayfair.com
The sun has set on Cyber Monday, and as retailers wipe the sweat off their brows and pause for a brief moment to look at the sales sandwiched between Thanksgiving and yesterday, many are pleased with what they see. Sales are up for the major online shopping days for many retailers. However, some say the growth is a result of smaller-ticket orders from more shoppers while others say consumers are spending more.
Overall online sales were up sharply on the Monday after Thanksgiving, according to two providers of web analytics software to major web retailers. IBM Corp. estimates sales were up 30% over Cyber Monday 2011 and Adobe Systems Inc. puts the increase at 17%.
Among those reporting big gains was home improvement e-retailer Build.com, whose Cyber Monday sales increased by 40% on Monday compared to Cyber Monday last year, says Christian Friedland founder and president. That made Cyber Monday the biggest sales day ever of Build.com.
However, he says holiday sales growth in general is stemming from more purchases, not big purchases. “There are more orders, but lower average order value and units per order,” Friedland says. He adds that shoppers are spending about 70% more time on Build.com on average this holiday season compared to last. “Customers are spending more time browsing and engaging with the content than ever before,” Friedland says. “This also points to greater consideration and research before the purchase.” Build.com is No. 81 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.
Yesterday also marked the highest sales day in history for home goods retailer Wayfair.com, with revenue coming in at $6.4 million, up 60% compared to last year. It says average order value was up 2%, conversions grew 20% and number of products per order increased 10% compared to Cyber Monday 2011. That comes on comes the heels of a 37% increase in holiday weekend sales year over year and $3.5 million in sales on Black Friday alone, Wayfair says. Sales for Wayfair (No. 50 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide) over the entire holiday weekend from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday totaled more than $16 million.
Additionally, the number of consumers who typed Wayfair’s name in search engines such as Google or Microsoft’s Bing increased 117%, Wayfair says. It says that increase likely stems from TV ads it began running in September.
Sales at furniture retailer CarolinaRustica.com are up about 15% for the period from Black Friday through Cyber Monday compared to the same time last year, says president Richard Sexton. Shoppers spent more per order yesterday than Cyber Monday last year, helping make Monday the retailer’s best Cyber Monday ever.
“Our average order value is higher, conversion rates are slightly higher, and number of visitors is slightly lower due to our paring down of affiliate programs and more focused SEO efforts,” Sexton says. Sexton points out that the higher average order value at his site could be because furniture is a more expensive, considered purchase that is not typically driven by large promotions such as the 30% to 50% off all items sitewide offered yesterday by apparel retailers Bonobos and Ann Taylor Loft.
Carolina Rustica’s top-selling items over the holidays so far are are beds, dining sets and recliners, and Sexton says shoppers are spending about the same amount of time on the retailer’s site as they did over the holiday last year. “More shoppers are engaging us on social media platforms, coupon sites and sites like Google Shopping, which is why revenue is higher but actual on-site engagement is fairly steady,” Sexton says. Carolina Rustica is No. 675 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide.
One bright spot that seems only to shine brighter as the holiday progresses is mobile sales. Revenue from mobile rose 75% on Cyber Monday 2012 compared to a year earlier at Wayfair. Adobe reports mobile revenue accounted for 22% of total Cyber Monday sales, up 100% from last year. That estimate is based on data from mainly larger retailer clients that alone accounted for more than $1 billion in online sales Monday. While Braintree, a payment gateway and processor, says mobile accounted for 29% of all online purchases for its clients. Braintree’s customers include many retailers active in mobile commerce such as Fab.com and LivingSocial.
Meanwhile, it seems marketers are paying attention for consumers increasing love affair with smartphones and tablets. Digital agency Clash Group reports 100% growth in mobile ad spending between Black Friday and Cyber Monday compared with a year earlier.
Increasingly savvy mobile shoppers are using their phones in stores, other research finds. 13% of online buyers who shopped with a mobile device this Thanksgiving weekend did so while in a retail store, according to a poll of 10,000 online buyers conducted by Bizrate Insights and Forrester Research Inc. Of all those surveyed, 25% of online buyers shopped with a mobile device over the holiday weekend. Of that group 70% used mobile devices to make a purchase, 60% to browse or research products, 56% to check prices and 37% to read product/store reviews.
Indeed, bricks-and-mortar stores—are struggling to keep up with the double-digit percentage sales growth online, according to new data from Chase Paymentech’s Holiday Pulse. In-store sales for the three-day period including Saturday, Sunday, and Cyber Monday rose by 2.1%, with transaction volume increasing 2.6% and average ticket dropping by 0.5%. That estimate is based on aggregated Chase cardholder spending data at bricks-and-mortar merchants.
Other research from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs finds chain store sales up 4.0% for the week ended Sunday compared to the same week a year earlier. The ICSC tracks sales across about 40 retail chain stores.