Ready, Set, Click. 2011 Cyber Monday Sets New Record

Given the less than stellar economic news, both online and offline retailers were trying new tricks and dusting off classics to pull in buyers for last weekend’s shopping extravaganza. And early results indicate it was worth the hard work.

While retail sales on the traditional Black Friday were up seven percent, online retailers experienced a giant leap in sales on Cyber Monday. According to comScore, online sales jumped 22 percent last Monday to $1.25 billion. Both the number of buyers and the average spend per buyer went up, too, contributing to the overall increase in sales.

A Ways to Go

While online spending was up over traditional retail outlets, total dollars spent were still greater on Black Friday at $11.4 billion. But for Cyber Monday, which didn’t exist until 2005, to already be at 10 percent of Friday’s sales is impressive. It’s all the more remarkable since we know that people are dodging their bosses to make many of those purchases at work.

Changing Times

What the numbers also suggest is that retailers can no longer sit on the sidelines of online sales. As more customers become comfortable with shopping online, particularly via a mobile device, stores need to offer a seamless experience. As Barry Silverstein reported a few weeks ago, consumers already expect their online and offline experience to merge. It’s imperative that retailers deliver on that expectation sooner rather than later.

Single Days Not Enough

Two big things that got people standing in line and going online last weekend were killer deals and free shipping. But when it comes to online deals, there seems to be even higher expectations for the type and scope offered.

Forsee released a report that indicated a potential issue with what they call browser satisfaction.

But while sales are up, website browser satisfaction is down. A browser is defined as anyone shopping on a retail website, whether or not they completed a purchase. Browser satisfaction this Cyber Monday (72.7 on the study’s 100-point scale) is lower this year than it was over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (73.3), lower than it was last year on Cyber Monday (73.1), and notably lower than it was on Cyber Monday in 2008 (75.9). In fact, satisfaction with online shopping over the holiday weekend and on Cyber Monday is at its lowest point in five years (the largest dip occurred between 2008 and 2009, and satisfaction has failed to rebound).

Browsers matter, because it’s the browser that ultimately becomes the buyer. So while retailers in general are happy with the outcome of the biggest shopping weekend to date, single days alone won’t be enough to declare this shopping season a success.

Strength in December

Even with the good news from both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, no one is willing to guarantee that it means strong sales throughout the rest of the year. In fact, the National Retail Federation said it is sticking with its earlier forecast for overall holiday retail sales to increase 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion during the months of November and December. There’s also concern that deep discounts in November will hurt December sales, an issue that cropped up in 2010. Based on past experience, few retailers may be willing to risk cutting back on their deal making and a reliance on slashing prices to move product isn’t a healthy sign for an still struggling sector.

However, even as some retail stores reported lower in-store sales than last year at this time, the forecast for online sales in December looks promising. While overall sales may only go up a small amount, the online retail portion of that increase could potentially rise 15 percent to $37.6 billion or roughly 8 percent of all holiday sales. Clearly this season marks a bit of a transition for online retail. Although consumers still lined up for deals at midnight, the very healthy bump in online sales indicates that the comfort level with online shopping has increased. But online retailers will have to continue their efforts to lower barriers to new online buyers and recognize that free shipping doesn’t have quite the same pull as it once did.

About Britt Raybould

Britt Raybould has a passion for telling stories and she specializes in helping companies figure out how to tell their own stories. Through her firm, Write Bold, she shows companies how storytelling can define them, both to their customers and within their industry. When she remembers to, Britt blogs on her personal sites at bold-words.com and brittraybould.com. You can find Britt on Twitter @britter.

Twitter: britter

2 Responses to Ready, Set, Click. 2011 Cyber Monday Sets New Record

  1. […] Even with the good news from both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, no one is willing to guarantee that it means strong sales throughout the rest of the year. In fact, the National Retail Federation said it is sticking with its earlier forecast for … See More » […]

  2. […] It was a very interesting campaign this year which, I’m happy to report, was a great success. In fact, many Cyber Monday campaigns were successful this year yielding a 7% jump for retailers and a whopping 22% for online sales (source). […]