Ecommerce Research / Holiday Ideas & Strategies

Cyber Week 2018 Trends Report: Pre-Thanksgiving Sales Grow, Mobile Drives Majority of Revenue

Tracey Wallace / 11 min read
Cyber Week Data Hero

Cyber Week is officially over.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the two largest online selling days of the year — are in the books.

Now, it’s time to pick, pack, ship and take a look at your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing campaigns to see which won, which lost and what that may mean for your 2019 marketing initiatives.

Before we dive into the data and trends, it’s important to point out that BigCommerce reports on Cyber Week gross merchandise value (GMV), average order value (AOV) and sales differently than other sites.

Same Store Sales Reporting & Why It Matters

While you can find all-up industry data and stats on a variety of media sites, we focus on reporting same-store sales year-over-year and breaking those down by verticals so you can benchmark your success.

All information shared in this report includes only data from stores that were online and selling on BigCommerce over Cyber Week 2017. This removes any stores added to the BigCommerce platform over the course of 2018.

Our goal is to provide an accurate view of the aggregate success of existing retailers during Cyber Week 2018 as compared to Cyber Week 2017.

Here are some top-level findings.

Cyber Week 2018 Trends

  • Mobile orders (including tablet) came in at 53% of total orders – and they were the primary revenue source every day of Cyber Week except for Cyber Monday, on which mobile GMV dropped to 43%. Most people were back to work on Monday after Thanksgiving, and they were likely close to desktop computers for easy shopping. Given the high volume of sales on Cyber Monday, this significantly lowered the Cyber Week mobile GMV percentage overall.
  • Webstores continue to have the highest AOV of all sales channels, followed by Facebook, though Facebook’s AOV is significantly lower than branded websites. Amazon and eBay have similar AOVs. Fashion & Jewelry brands experienced the biggest revenue lifts from Facebook, with 70% of total GMV from those brands coming from that channel. Home & Garden took 16% and all others fell below 8%.
  • The Fashion & Jewelry and Toys & Games verticals saw the highest GMV increases over 2017. These are traditional gift verticals for the holidays. Food & Beverage and Home & Garden verticals saw the highest increase in AOV – significantly more than other verticals with double-digit increases on nearly all Cyber Week days.

While those stats may help to inform your 2019 direction, benchmarking yourself against the industry and, more specifically, against your vertical is the best bet to understand your success.

That’s why below you’ll find aggregated data across tens of thousands of online brands that show:

  • Year-over-year same-store sales and orders data.
  • Year-over-year device breakdown (desktop v. mobile and iOS v. Android).
  • Average order value by vertical.

And you’ll get all of this information broken out in aggregate across Cyber Week and in individual days, including:

You’ll also hear from 4 of this year’s most successful brands on which channels worked and what they did to grow sales more than 500% in each of their respective verticals.

Most Successful Cyber Week 2018 Tactics

  • Selling on or through Facebook & Instagram.
  • Email marketing, specifically prior to Thanksgiving.
  • Selling on Amazon.
  • Content and commerce integration and strategies.
  • Site UX & Checkout Optimization.
  • Inventory Preparation.
  • Influencer Marketing & Social Media Engagement.

Without further ado, let’s take a long, hard look at what 2018’s Cyber Week had in store for online sellers.

Cyber Week Mobile Sales Accounted for 53% of Total Revenue

Mobile orders all up (including tablet) came in at 53% of total orders – and was the primary revenue order source through the week except for Cyber Monday, on which mobile GMV dropped 43%.

Given the high volume of sales on Cyber Monday, this significantly lowered the Cyber Week mobile GMV percentage.

Desktop continues to have higher AOV, followed by tablets and then mobile devices. In some verticals, tablets have higher AOV than their desktop counterparts, though much lower percentage of GMV all up.

Here is how it broke down:

Cyber Week 2018 GMV by Order Source

  • Desktop: 47%
  • Mobile: 45%
  • Tablet: 8%

Cyber Week 2018 AOV by Order Source:

  • Desktop: $122.37
  • Mobile: $88.25
  • Tablet: $107.06

Cyber Week 2018 AOV by Device:

  • iPhone: $90.45
  • Android: $84.10

Cyber Week Data Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet

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Webstores Drive at Least 52% Higher AOV Than Other Sales Channels

Webstores continue to have the highest AOV of sales channels, followed by Facebook, though Facebook’s AOV is significantly lower than branded websites. Amazon and eBay have similar AOVs.

Fashion & Jewelry brands experience the biggest revenue lifts through the Facebook channel, at 70% of total GMV driven through that vertical. Home & Garden took 16% and all others fell below 8%.

On Amazon and eBay, vertical revenue is more evenly distributed.

You can, however, see key differences in the verticals that do well on each marketplace.

On Amazon, Fashion & Jewelry and Home & Garden are the primary successful sales verticals.

On eBay, Toys & Games and Automotive are the primary successful sales verticals.

Here is how it broke down:

Cyber Week 2018 Sales Channel AOV

  • Amazon: $55.83
  • Facebook: $69.76
  • eBay: $57.25
  • Webstore: $105.75

Percent of GMV by Vertical on Facebook:

  • Fashion & Jewelry: 70%
  • Home & Garden: 16%
  • Automotive: 7%
  • Sports & Outdoors: 3%
  • Toys & Games: 3%
  • Health & Beauty: 1%

Percent of GMV by Vertical on Amazon:

  • Fashion & Jewelry: 32%
  • Home & Garden: 24%
  • Toys & Games: 15%
  • Sports & Outdoors: 14%
  • Health & Beauty: 8%
  • Automotive: 6%
  • Food & Beverage: 2%

Percent of GMV by Vertical on eBay:

  • Toys & Games: 28%
  • Automotive: 20%
  • Home & Garden: 16%
  • Sports & Outdoors: 15%
  • Fashion & Jewelry: 14%
  • Health & Beauty: 7%

Cyber Week Data Sales Channel AOV Vertical Analysis

Vertical Specific Trends: AOV, CR, Order Source and More

The Fashion & Jewelry and Toys & Games verticals saw the highest YoY GMV increases. These are traditional gift verticals for the holidays.

Food & Beverage and Home & Garden verticals saw the highest increase in AOV – significantly more than other verticals with double-digit increases on nearly all Cyber Week days.

The significant increase in AOV for these two verticals may be attributed to a slowing housing market in which homeowners are investing increasingly in furniture and household items, rather than purchasing new homes.

Food & Beverage is a popular vertical among Millennials and Gen Z, who prefer experiential items and purchases over keepsake goods.

In addition, both the Food & Beverage and Home & Garden verticals saw an increase in online stores selling those items throughout 2018:

  • Food brands are finally overcoming shipping challenges with local and last mile delivery among other options.
  • Beverage brands are expanding beyond coffee – and often into CBD products as that specific vertical heats up.
  • Furniture brands are also overcoming shipping challenges, as well as marketing challenges, as they disrupt the typical furniture buying process.
  • Kitchen supply brands are also seeing a renaissance as their marketing picks up additional personality for the Millennial generation buying homes and building families.

Here is how each vertical broke down.

The Automotive Vertical

Same-store automotive brands on BigCommerce earned 10% more in GMV YoY.

Automotive Cyber Week 2018 YoY GMV

  • Thanksgiving: +5%
  • Black Friday: +13%
  • Saturday: +10%
  • Sunday: +3%
  • Cyber Monday: +12%

Automotive Cyber Week 2018 Average Order Value

  • Thanksgiving: $222.92 (-2%)
  • Black Friday: $254.23 (-1%)
  • Saturday: $219.57 (-1%)
  • Sunday: $195.67 (No change)
  • Cyber Monday: $248.78 (+7%)

Automotive Percent of Orders by Source

  • Desktop: 45%
  • Mobile: 49%
  • Tablet: 6%

Automotive AOV Orders by Source

  • Desktop: $249.32
  • Mobile: $212.54
  • Tablet: $290.89

Automotive average Cyber Week conversion rate

2.4%

Cyber Week Data Automotive Brands

Automotive Brand Highlight

Cyber Week BB Wheels

We caught up with Dean Goebel at BB Wheels Online to get a first hand take on Cyber Week for an automotive brand.

What channels were the most effective in driving sales this year?

We are exclusively on BigCommerce and have found again and again that being hyper focused on SEO optimizing activities has been our best long term sales driver.

In addition to SEO, we are invested heavily in Google/Bing Shopping and our social media platforms.

Did your brand do anything different to prepare for Cyber Week this year than last?

We have hired additional employees to handle the added volume.

We just hired on our first full time marketing manager one month ago and are already seeing significant value creation.

She has already done a phenomenal job creating marketing content and being proactive in our social media channels.

This improved communication focus to our customers is paying off.

Also, to handle the anticipated higher volume not only for Cyber Week, but for future growth we have also hired additional sales and service employees.

Were there any shopping trends you saw this year that were different than previous Cyber Weeks?

We have noticed that the holiday shopping season continues to stretch out so our daily sales volume has increased broadly versus just having one or two large sales days.

What is your plan for the rest of the year?

In addition to our constant focus on improving our SEO metrics, improved marketing content, and a stronger social media focus, we are also working on the development of our website to move from Blueprint to Stencil.

We are seeing a continued trend to increased mobile activity and see significant benefits to upgrading our platform to optimize that channel.

In addition to our Stencil upgrade, we are also working on major initiatives through the end of the year to improve our operational efficiency including a new ERP/CRM system, improved search functionality and additional payment options.

We are also currently going through a BigCommerce Conversion Audit.

This has been extremely helpful in focusing our priorities through a process driven approach.

We are actually utilizing some of the audit recommendations in our current projects!

How will you capitalize on the holiday success for 2019?

Again, we are investing significant resources on multiple fronts.

Our goal is to have most of these major projects completed by the end of Q2 2019.

From there we will work to fully understand and utilize these new and improved resources.

This should give us a much more robust tool mix to handle significantly more volume efficiently while providing an enhanced and customized experience to our customers.

The Fashion & Jewelry Vertical

Same-store fashion & jewelry brands on BigCommerce earned 16% more in GMV.

Fashion & Jewelry GMV

  • Thanksgiving: +26%
  • Black Friday: +23%
  • Saturday: +14%
  • Sunday: +10%
  • Cyber Monday: +10%

Fashion & Jewelry AOV

  • Thanksgiving: $85.11 (+3% YoY)
  • Black Friday: $83.34 (+4% YoY)
  • Saturday: $80.69 (+6% YoY)
  • Sunday: $81.04 (+7% YoY)
  • Cyber Monday: $81.68 (+5% YoY)

Fashion & Jewelry Percent of Orders by Source

  • Desktop: 37%
  • Mobile: 56%
  • Tablet: 7%

Fashion & Jewelry AOV Orders by Source

  • Desktop: $96.35
  • Mobile: $71.89
  • Tablet: $96.49

Fashion & Jewelry average conversion rate

4.7%

Cyber Week Data Fashion Jewelry Brands

Fashion & Jewelry Brand Highlight

Cyber Week Olive Clothing

We caught up with Rohan Moore, founder of Olive Clothing, to understand how Cyber Week turned out for his business.

What channels were the most effective in driving sales this year?

We don’t try to cover all channels across the social media landscape, but rather focus on the platforms upon which we’ve established vibrant audiences.

Facebook and Instagram gave us fantastic platforms to communicate our offer, but email — despite the perception of being in terminal decline — continued to be the leading driver for our messaging.

Did you do anything different to prepare for Cyber Week this year than last?

We made additional preparations for fulfilment, pre-packing certain higher-value items that are time-consuming to prepare at the packing station.

The considerable amount of investment and innovation in our back-end logistics, however, generally contributed to our successful and timely fulfilment of over 99.99% of items in the surge of orders.

Were there any shopping trends you saw this year that were different than previous Cyber Weeks?

There was an increase in the proportion of traffic from mobile versus other devices (from 62% of traffic to 70%), and a greater increase in mobile contribution to revenue (from 35% to 45%).

We saw strong growth in menswear buying, but womenswear continued to dominate the event.

What is your plan for the rest of the year?

Our focus now is dialling back to the more muted messaging that best characterises our brand, and focusing on communicating our core collection and newest arrivals — coordinating our products in attractive creatives, and exploring which styles are best engaging our various key international audiences.

How will you capitalize on the holiday success for 2019?

We do very little discounting compared to most major brands, and the sales season gives us a great opportunity not only to promote unseasonable product, but also to give our customers a rare opportunity to buy some higher priced items that might otherwise be out of their reach.

Having attracted a large audience for our Black Friday programme, we’re keen to try to keep those customers in dialogue with us — delivering exceptional service and value for their discount purchases, and hopefully encouraging them to stay with us to enjoy our wider collection through the oncoming months.

The Food & Beverage Vertical

Same-store food & beverage brands on BigCommerce earned 14% more in GMV YoY.

Food & Beverage GMV

  • Thanksgiving: +21%
  • Black Friday: +11%
  • Saturday: +9%
  • Sunday: +14%
  • Cyber Monday: +14%

Food & Beverage AOV

  • Thanksgiving: $95.54 (+17% YoY)
  • Black Friday: $88.82 (+11% YoY)
  • Saturday: $81.42 (4% YoY)
  • Sunday: $86.58 (+14% YoY)
  • Cyber Monday: $103.54 (10% YoY)

Food & Beverage Percent of Orders by Source

  • Desktop: 52%
  • Mobile: 41%
  • Tablet: 7%

Food & Beverage AOV Orders by Source

  • Desktop: $103.74
  • Mobile: $70.83
  • Tablet: $99.08

Food & Beverage average conversion rate

5.4%

Cyber Week Data Food Beverage Brands

The Health & Beauty Vertical

Same-store health & beauty brands on BigCommerce earned 15% more in GMV.

Health & Beauty GMV

  • Thanksgiving: +13%
  • Black Friday: +16%
  • Saturday: +23%
  • Sunday: +15%
  • Monday: +11%

Health & Beauty AOV

  • Thanksgiving: $76.78 (-4% YoY)
  • Black Friday: $82.97 (+6% YoY)
  • Saturday: $79.85 (+10% YoY)
  • Sunday: $77.86 (+12% YoY)
  • Cyber Monday: $88.24 (+4% YoY)

Health & Beauty Percent of Orders by Source

  • Desktop: 44%
  • Mobile: 49%
  • Tablet: 7%

Health & Beauty AOV Orders by Source

  • Desktop: $88.82
  • Mobile: $72.58
  • Tablet: $90.39

Health & Beauty average conversion rate

7.2%

Cyber Week Data Health Beauty Brands

Health & Beauty Brand Highlight

Cyber Week Rocktape

We caught up with Stefano Scalia, Senior Director, Marketing North America at Rocktape, to hear first hand how Cyber Week went at a health and beauty brand.

What channels were the most effective in driving sales this year?

Email was our most effective channel, followed by social media (organic and paid).

We made sure to have compelling email creative and sent out over 300,000 emails from Thursday-Monday.

We also leveraged our social media channels (Instagram, specifically) and our network of influencers to spread the word about our sale.

Did your brand do anything different to prepare for Cyber Week this year than last?

Definitely, in addition to sending a significantly higher number of emails, we created a Black Friday/Cyber Monday “ad retargeting” pool that allowed us to serve ads cross the web to existing and potential customers during the weekend-long sale.

Were there any shopping trends you saw this year that were different than previous Cyber Weeks?

Other than increased volume, no.

What is your plan for the rest of the year?

Our sales have helped us acquire a significant number of new customers.

Our plan is to aggressively target these “first time buyers” with a second offer later in December, as our data shows that customers who make two purchases tend to not churn out within 12 months.

It’s imperative we incentivize a second purchase.

How will you capitalize on the holiday success for 2019?

By making more money :)

The Home & Garden Vertical

Same-store home & garden brands on BigCommerce earned 11% more in GMV.

Home & Garden GMV

  • Thanksgiving: +11%
  • Black Friday: +22%
  • Saturday: +18%
  • Sunday: +5%
  • Cyber Monday: +1%

Home & Garden AOV

  • Thanksgiving: $117.74 (+18% YoY)
  • Black Friday: $142.67 (+29% YoY)
  • Saturday: $118.22 (+29% YoY)
  • Sunday: $108.13 (+17% YoY)
  • Cyber Monday: $126.64 (+9% YoY)

Home & Garden % Orders by Source

  • Desktop: 50%
  • Mobile: 40%
  • Tablet: 10%

Home & Garden AOV Orders by Source

  • Desktop: $141.07
  • Mobile: $98.53
  • Tablet: $122.23

Home & Garden average conversion rate

4.1%

Cyber Week Data Home Garden Brands

The Sports & Outdoors Brands

Same-store sports & outdoors brands on BigCommerce earned 11% more in GMV.

Sports & Outdoors GMV

  • Thanksgiving: +18%
  • Black Friday: +17%
  • Saturday: +12%
  • Sunday: +13%
  • Cyber Monday: +2%

Sports & Outdoors AOV

  • Thanksgiving: $143.17 (-1% YoY)
  • Black Friday: $132.21(-12% YoY)
  • Saturday: $139.31 (+1% YoY)
  • Sunday: $138.21 (+3% YoY)
  • Cyber Monday: $150.25 (No change)

Sports & Outdoors Percent of Orders by Source

  • Desktop: 47%
  • Mobile: 45%
  • Tablet: 8%

Sports & Outdoors AOV Orders by Source

  • Desktop: $157.82
  • Mobile: $122.22
  • Tablet: $145.70

Sports & Outdoors average conversion rate

3.8%

Cyber Week Data Sports Outdoors Brands

Sports & Outdoors Brand Highlight

Cyber Week TRX

We caught up with Rick Cusick, VP, Ecommerce & Global Consumer at TRX, to hear first hand how Cyber Week went at a sports & outdoors brand.

What channels were the most effective in driving sales this year?

We saw strong contribution from all channels.

Paid Social, Paid Search and Email had particularly strong growth increases versus last year due to very cohesive and integrated marketing strategy across all three.

Did your brand do anything different to prepare for Cyber Week this year than last?

Yes. We linked our training product with our training technology (TRX App) and in doing so, offered consumers an integrated trading solution.

Gear + App = Everything you need to workout anywhere, anytime.

Were there any shopping trends you saw this year that were different than previous Cyber Weeks?

We saw very strong late afternoon and evening buying every day.

The biggest trend however was enormous shift into mobile traffic and buying.

80% of our traffic came on mobile, and mobile contributed almost 60% of our revenue.

What is your plan for the rest of the year?

We will focus on Gifts Fit For Giving marketing, a 5-Day Holiday Sale, free 3-Day, 2-Day and Overnight Shipping Countdowns and Gift Certificates the last 4 days.

How will you capitalize on the holiday success for 2019?

We are going to DisneyWorld!

But really, we will reassess and re-calibrate our 2019 plans based on the strong activity across social platforms and influencer campaigns, as well as invest in broader brand building marketing.

We will also refine and optimize our site functionality, with a focus on further simplifying the mobile UI and transaction flow.

The Toys & Games Vertical

Same-store toys & games brands on BigCommerce earned 18% more in GMV.

Toys & Games GMV

  • Thanksgiving: +30%
  • Black Friday: +18%
  • Saturday: +20%
  • Sunday: +19%
  • Cyber Monday: +8%

Toys & Games AOV

  • Thanksgiving: $79.98 (-21% YoY)
  • Black Friday: $107.36 (No change)
  • Saturday: $89.06 (-1% YoY)
  • Sunday: $86.88 (+5% YoY)
  • Cyber Monday: $98.24 (-1% YoY)

Toys & Games Percent of Orders by Source

  • Desktop: 54%
  • Mobile: 39%
  • Tablet: 7%

Toys & Games AOV Orders by Source

  • Desktop: $103.88
  • Mobile: $92.64
  • Tablet: $106.68

Toys & Games average conversion rate

3.7%

Cyber Week Data Toys Games Brands

Black Friday Expands Globally

In Australia, Black Friday sales surpassed Boxing Day sales for the first time ever, moving Black Friday more toward an international shopping day.

”This is the sugar rush for consumers in the lead-up to Christmas, while Boxing Day sales will be the insulin rebound,” said Jordan Sim from ecommerce platform, BigCommerce.

”It will be a cultural reset of sales events which will force retailers into a seismic shift of their sales strategies.”

The History of Black Friday

Black Friday first referred to the collapse of the US gold market in 1869.

A decade later, in 1961, Philadelphia police used the term “Black Friday” to describe the congestion downtown, where hoards of shoppers were congregating, heading toward the big department stores.

For retailers, it was originally a derogatory term which the industry worked to reinvent – saying that revenue went from red to black thanks to the increase in purchases taking place the Friday after Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that Black Friday as we know it today began to gain popularity, with anticipation of deep discounts.

Today, nearly all retailers in the US participate in Black Friday and Cyber Week, which has grown to include Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday (coined by AMEX), and Cyber Monday (which grew out of the dot-com bubble era).

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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