What We Learned From Cyber Weekend 2014

cyber-weekend-115Cyber Weekend 2014 ecommerce sales increased 12.6%, according to IBM’s real-time analytics.

That’s the good news.

But because Cyber Monday sales only rose 8.5% this year, and shopper traffic from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday dropped 5.2% from 2013, there’s widespread panic in Overreactionland.

But so far, the 2014 holiday season is looking like a carbon copy of holiday 2013. Promotional activity began well before Black Friday, and consumers started their holiday shopping before Halloween.

National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay puts a positive spin on this past weekend: We’re witnessing an evolutionary change in holiday shopping by both consumers and retailers, and this trend should continue in the years ahead.

The lessons merchants learned from the 2013 holiday season have become an integral part of their 2014 holiday game plans (as we predicted in this executive summary back in February). Here’s a look at what we learned from Cyber Weekend 2014.

Shoppers Hit the Stores on Thanksgiving Night

So much for the social media calls for Thanksgiving Day store boycotts. Walmart reported that more than 22 million customers were greeted at its stores on Thanksgiving night. To put that into perspective, that’s more people than the combined populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix, the six largest cities in the U.S.

Mobile Shopping Trumped Grandma’s Thanksgiving Stories

In between the turkey and the pumpkin pie, consumers searched for bargains on their smartphones and tablets. IBM’s real-time analytics showed that online sales were up 14.3% over the same period on Thanksgiving 2013, and that mobile sales accounted for 32.3% of all online sales, an increase of 25.4% year-over-year. Rue La La reported record-breaking sales via mobile devices on Thanksgiving, with 68% of sales coming from mobile. Overall, Branding Brand’s Mobile Commerce Index for Thanksgiving Day 2014 shows that three out of five online shoppers were mobile.

eBay Had a Big Black Friday

ChannelAdvisor says its clients Black Friday same store sales grew 26.9% year-over-year on eBay, and that’s at a faster pace than Amazon’s same store sales. So what sparked eBay’s growth? According ChannelAdvisor founder and CEO Scot Wingo, this was largely driven by promotions in their deal of the day program centered around Black Friday. Black Friday was a big bounceback for ChannelAdvisor’s eBay users. ChannelAdvisor reported that eBay was the slowest growing channel on Thanksgiving, coming in at 3% year-over-year growth.

Mobile Payments on the Rise

Thanksgiving 2014 resulted in a 47% increase in PayPal global mobile payment volume and a 62% increase on Black Friday compared to Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2013. There was a 43% increase in the number of global PayPal customers shopping through PayPal mobile on Thanksgiving 2014 and a 51% increase over those respective days in 2013.

Facebook was More Influential than Pinterest

The average order value for sales coming directly from social networks on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday was led by Facebook with $114.45, according to the Adobe Digital Index. Pinterest came in second with $93.20, and Twitter drove online sales of $90.74 on average. Pinterest saw the largest YoY increase in AOV, up 16 percent. Facebook (seven percent) and Twitter (five percent) also saw slight increases. Two percent ($74.6 million) of purchases came directly from social media sites, which is flat compared to 2013.

But it Wasn’t as Effective as Email

Email Marketing was by far the channel driving the most online sales on Black Friday, according to the Custora E-Commerce Pulse. While usually lagging behind online search (free and paid), on Black Friday email marketing was the primary channel, driving 27.3% of sales. Social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) drove only 1.7% of sales.

iOS vs. Android

iOS once again led the way in mobile shopping this holiday season, outpacing Android across three key metrics on Black Friday, according to IBM’s data. iOS users averaged $121.86 per order compared to $98.07 for Android users, a difference 24.3%. iOS traffic accounted for 34.2% of total online traffic, more than double that of Android, which drove 15% of all online traffic. iOS sales accounted for 21.9% of total online sales, nearly quadruple that of Android, which drove 5.8% of all online sales.

Did The #BreakTheInternet?

Maybe Kim Kardashian did break the Internet. Best Buy had outages on Black Friday (Thursday too), according to report from web performance monitoring company Catchpoint Systems. Neiman Marcus was down for 2.5 hours on Saturday night (830-11 ET) with poor availability leading to the outage. Gamestop has had poor availability all weekend (83% availability average). J. Crew has had slower-than-normal load times (due to a 3rd party). Overall, Catchpoint Systems says ecommerce sites were “fatter and slower” this Cyber Weekend: Most home pages in both desktop and mobile sites performed (loaded) slightly slower than in 2013 during the same timeframe.

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