There was a flurry of negative stories that online sales momentum is falling after IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark reported Cyber Monday evening that sales only rose 8.5%, compared to 20% the prior year. But IBM, as a 9-to-5 corporation that dominates the sales processing technology for brick and mortar retailers, did not understand the high point of Cyber Monday online sales took place this year after 10 p.m.
By midnight, Cyber Monday online sales were up +16.7%. During Cyber Five–Thanksgiving Thursday through Cyber Monday–online sales jumped +20.6%.
I reported for Breitbart California that Amazon.com was following a military model to conquer cyber-space this holiday shopping season. The firm is enhancing the productivity of the 80,000 temporary seasonal workers they hired this year by deploying 1,500 logistic robots built by Kiva Corporation, a company it bought in 2012.
Although Amazon’s capital spending surge has been controversial among investors because the expense is hammering earnings, it was my belief that Amazon was getting ahead of the traditional retailers’ new “Brick2Click” strategy of allowing customers’ online ordering and instant pick up at a brick and mortar location.
Generally working through “3PMs” (third party marketing firms), Brick2Click retailers saw a +60.3% year over year lift-off from online sales on Cyber Monday, and a +54.4% spurt for the Cyber Five, according to ChannelAdvisor. These are fantastic numbers for retailing as a mature industry, but performance came from a very low prior year base.
The Brick2Click retailers’ numbers could have been much higher, but there were an unusually high number of online “stock outs” as online sales beat their expectations. Hot toys with stock outs included Paw Patrol, Minecraft, and absolutely everything to do with Disney’s Frozen. Hot electronics with stock outs included Go Pro and iAnything.
Online sales volume on an hourly basis initially tracked traditional retailers on Cyber Monday. From a low of at about 4 a.m., sales rose steeply to a high plateau between 12 noon and 2 p.m., and then fell back through 5 p.m. But after 6 p.m., online sales sprinted to a new much higher level at 10 p.m. It seems that shoppers went to the mall in the daytime to “eye and try” merchandise. Then they went home and hit online sites hard.
Amazon Cyber Monday sales came in at the higher level of analysts at a gain of plus 13.7%. Google Adwords and Bing Search were both up about 13.9%. But given that Amazon had the scale of 30% of the entire online market before Thanksgiving. their Cyber Five day online sales increase came in at a stunning plus 23.8%!
Mobile traffic from smartphones and tablets got a lot of visibility for the Cyber Five day period by jumping from 30.1% last year of online traffic to 45% in 2014. But when it comes to actually spending money, 71% of individual online purchases were still transacted on computers.
Because Cyber Monday online sales were so back-end loaded, there is sure to have been at least a 2-3 hour continuation of heavy online shopping into Tuesday morning. By any measure, “Cyber Five” day online sales were a smashing success for Brick2Click and Amazon this year. Despite head-to-head competition, both prospered.