The Results Are In: Is Cyber Monday Still Relevant?
The holiday shopping season got off to a strong start this year with Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday all reaching new records, with an increase in online sales at 32 percent, 26 percent, and 17 percent respectively. Online traffic is growing leaps and bounds, but does Cyber Monday’s digital growth, seemingly stunted compared to its offline counterparts, spell disaster for the cyber-centric holiday? Not exactly.
According to Adobe’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping data, Cyber Monday online sales in the U.S. totaled $2.65 billion, overtaking last year’s Cyber Monday as the biggest online shopping day in history. While many observers, from journalists to analysts, have speculated the death of Cyber Monday, we think the data tells a more valuable story.
Cyber Monday is not dead, but as consumer preference shifts, the concept is becoming obsolete and brands will have to adjust. The term “online shopping” is becoming redundant terminology for “shopping,” period. This is because the gap between online and offline consumer behavior is closing.
For many consumers, digital is the primary channel used for everyday activities, replacing voice and in-person interactions whenever possible. We call them the “digital-first generation,” a quickly growing audience whose instinct is always digital, first, whether it’s to explore a new product, contact a brand, complain, find gift ideas, watch entertainment or even seek romance. They’re in the four out of five Americans who check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up—75% of whom bring it with them to the bathroom. Digital firsts are connected day and night, blurring the line between their online and offline lives.
They’re also driving the steady growth of digital commerce, with mobile figures soon eclipsing online numbers. U.S. e-retail sales are expected to grow 57.4 percent, from $263 billion in 2013 to $414 billion in 2018, according to an online retail sales forecast from Forrester Research. Global online sales made via mobile devices are expected to top $638 billion in 2018, according to a forecast from Goldman Sachs. That’s roughly the size of the world's entire e-commerce market in 2013. LivePerson's record numbers tell a similar story, with the platform supporting an 18 percent increase in visitor traffic on Black Friday, and monitoring over 2.7 billion visits for the total month of November, indicating the growing preference for online shopping beyond just the "digital event" of Cyber Monday.
Brands need to understand that this isn’t just about a shifting focus from in-store to online, or even to mobile. Consumers want a different way to engage with a brand. Some of the most popular, fastest growing brands today are those that provide a connection-based experience via digital channels. Think: Uber, Amazon Fire, and Airbnb. LivePerson reporting showed a dramatic increase in the number of consumers requesting digital assistance on Cyber Monday, hosting over 2.8 million engagements across the platform, up more than 20 percent from 2013. LivePerson also noticed a 50 percent decline in voice calls, validating consumer tendency to message during busy shopping seasons versus voice. The drop in voice call volume and increase in digital assistance support the acceleration of the mobile and messaging movement led by the digital-first generation.
An important point for brands to understand is that the rise of the digital channel does not mean that consumers are looking to disconnect from the humanity of your brand. It is actually quite opposite. Consumers who are engaging businesses during the busy holiday season are looking for an interaction that reflects the importance of their purchase. This is a pivotal time for the consumer-brand relationship, and those that are poised to personally connect when and where their customers need them, can convert busy holiday browsers into lifelong loyal advocates.