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It’s never been better to own an online store, and this year’s Cyber Five shopping days – which encompass Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Black Friday Weekend and Cyber Monday – proved it.

Reports throughout the ecommerce industry touted the rise of online purchases in 2014 over 2013. Numbers from IBM showed that browsing on smartphones and tablets accounted for 52.1% of all online traffic on Thanksgiving, with online sales that day up 14.3% compared to last year. IBM reported similar increases for Black Friday, showing a 9.5% year-over-year increase in online sales, with mobile accounting for 27.9% of those, up 28.2% from 2013.

Smartphones and tablets accounted for 52.1% of all online traffic on Thanksgiving.

PayPal also released data reflecting mobile growth. The payment processing company saw a 47% global increase in the number of customers paying through PayPal mobile on Thanksgiving and a 62% increase for Black Friday over their 2013 counterparts.

For small businesses using ecommerce solutions, the Cyber Five week proved to be just as profitable and mobile-friendly as it was for larger retail chains. Stores supported by Bigcommerce saw per-store sales increase 27% on average during the Cyber Five weekend compared to 2013, with a 44% increase in mobile purchases.

Cyber week 2014 saw a 44% increase in mobile purchases.

While some across the industry reported a noticeable increase in sales on both Thanksgiving Day and ‘Giving Tuesday,’ suggesting evolving buying trends, for independent retailers Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain the juggernauts of the holiday shopping season. Of stores on the Bigcommerce platform, year over year sales were up more than 30% on both days.

New Strategies Fuel Sales Growth

Grace and Lace, a 2013 Shark Tank participant that received $175,000 in investment for 10% equity from Shark Barbara Corcoran, closed out the Cyber Five week with a new top selling product: boot cuffs.

“Last year we were inundated with orders from being featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, so we offered barely anything at all in terms of sales,” says Chris Cowden, operations lead at Grace and Lace. “This year we also offered a 20% site-wide discount with free domestic shipping (no minimum order size) for Black Friday and for Cyber Monday, we decided to do a week-long ‘Cyber Week’ sale, where each day featured 1 or 2 select items at significant discounts at 25% and higher.”

Man Crates, a curated box service, had a similar sales flood, especially on Cyber Monday. Whiskey Crate, Barware and Exotic Meats were the standout products.

This year, [Cyber Monday] was our new ‘best sales day ever.’

“We had a huge Cyber Monday,” says Scott Ellis, head of marketing over at Man Crates. “We actually refer to it in our campaigns as Massive Man Crates Monday (MMM) – and it was indeed massive. This year, MMM was our new ‘best sales day ever’ and was almost 5 times larger than Cyber Monday last year.”

To make the most of Cyber Monday, the Man Crates team put together an omni-channel sales funnel that nurtured site visitors from first contact all the way through to purchase. This funnel included:

  • Sitewide sales with price discounts at three levels of spend ($75, $150, $300)
  • Exclusive deals for Man Crates’ email newsletter list
  • Influential gift guides; Man Crates was mentioned in several targeted lifestyle publications including Newsday, ESSENCE and Marie Claire
  • Radio advertising with key media influencers including the Howard Stern Show
  • Social Media campaign on Pinterest with support on Facebook and Twitter
  • Ongoing efforts with SEM and SEO, optimized for MMM

Success this holiday season for many online retailers came down to proper planning and leveraged promotions. Taking advantage of onsite price discounts and spreading discount awareness through to your social media following, as well as capturing placements in gift guides, are effective sales tactics for attracting both returning and new customers.

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