December 1, 2015, 2:18 PM

Online sales surpass $3 billion on Cyber Monday

A late push helps online retailers eclipse the milestone for the first time in a single day, making Cyber Monday 2015 the biggest online sales day ever.

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Cyber Monday—as the Monday after Thanksgiving has come to be known—lived up to the hype for online retailers, breaking sales records in the process.

Online sales eclipsed the $3 billion mark—$3.07 billion to be precise—once the clock struck midnight  on Cyber Monday, making it the largest online sales day ever in the U.S., Adobe Systems Inc.’s Adobe Digital Index reported, up 16% from $2.64 billion spent the same day last year. That $3.07 billion was also about $100 million more than Adobe projected ($2.98 billion) when it sent out its initial release recapping the online sales day just after 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Monday.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, Adobe said a nighttime push helped online retailers combine to eclipse the $3 billion mark.

“Online traffic was so astronomical that several retailers experienced temporary outages and slow checkouts, but that didn’t stall consumer spending,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Sales Index.

Retailers were aggressive in offering deals, and Adobe found some had trouble keeping products in stock. Out-of-stock rates were more than twice as high—13 out of 100 product views—as they are on an average day, according to Adobe’s data.

While Cyber Monday set an online sales record, average order value on the day ($133) was the lowest of the three big shopping days, including Thanksgiving ($162) and Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving ($137).

Meanwhile, IBM reports that Cyber Monday sales grew 17.8% year over year, with electronics such as Samsung TVs and the Apple Watch ranking among the top sellers. Most notably, smartphones accounted for a higher percentage of overall online retail traffic, with 36.8% of shoppers visiting online retail sites on their phones, up from 28.5% last year. More shoppers also were buying on their smartphones as well, with 15.2% of sales taking place on phones compared to 9.1% last year.

Shoppers may have visited online retail sites and bought  more frequently on their smartphones, but the average spend on those devices ($102.20) still lagged desktop ($128) and tablet shoppers ($124.14).

Digital advertising vendor HookLogic’s data confirms that the waning hours of Cyber Monday proved to be the day’s most lucrative. The company said conversion rates peaked between 9-10 p.m. Eastern, which it claims was “the biggest hour in online shopping history,” though the company didn’t provide sales figures or further data to back that claim. Overall, shoppers were converting at a rate nine times higher than the daily average.

Data from Pitney Bowes indicates that at least some of the strong online sales growth in the U.S. on Monday can be attributed to increasing interest from shoppers in Asia. A Pitney Bowes spokeswoman says the number of orders placed by shoppers in Taiwan with U.S. retailers on Cyber Monday grew 114% year over year, while the number of orders placed by shoppers in China grew 78% and orders from South Korean shoppers grew 34%.

So how can retailers sustain that momentum heading into the rest of the holiday shopping season?

HookLogic CEO Jonathan Opdyke says offering fast and free shipping is key, as is spotlighting desired products on a website’s front page.

“With the infinite shelf of e-commerce sites, consumers need help discovering more products that they may be interested in,” he says. “We see that the first page of e-commerce search results drives 85% of all product pages ever viewed, so it’s important that more brands get the opportunities for their products to be discovered.”

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