Key Takeaways from Cyber Week 2020

Record-setting holiday weekend reminds us to prioritize mobile

This holiday shopping season looks vastly different than ever before.  The pandemic has accelerated and exaggerated a paradigm shift that’s been in the works for over a decade. Digital commerce is increasing its share of total retail sales in the US and around the world. In this unprecedented year, with brick-and-mortar retail taking a major hit due to the pandemic response, it’s no surprise that e-commerce sales have set record numbers. We look at the numbers from Cyber Week and uncover key insights for succeeding in a .

Key Takeaways:

  • Record-setting sales fall short of the most optimistic predictions for YoY growth
  • Retail giants are the big winners, but consumers are trying to shop smaller retailers
  • Mobile accounts for half of all orders, but trails desktop in AOV and conversion rate
  • Cyber Monday was the biggest day, but less important as discounts begin early
  • Curbside pickup and BOPIS see a large increase, and more retailers need to adapt
  • In-store traffic down by a whopping 42%, but in-store sales only down by 24%
  • Website performance is a difference-maker for key e-commerce metrics

Record-setting ‘Cyber Week’ sales fall on the low end of predictions

Total sales for Cyber Monday ($10.8 billion) and the holiday shopping season as a whole (over $106 billion) have set records this year, according to Adobe analytics. However, they still fall short of optimistic predictions, possibly due to hardships brought on by the pandemic response. Cyber Monday saw a 15.1% increase year-over-year (YoY) and overall holiday spending (November 1 to present) is up about 27% over the same period in 2019.1

Consumers want to shop small

The largest YoY gains of the week were on Small Business Saturday (30.2%), a sign that consumers are making a more concerted effort to support smaller retailers. Additionally, Amazon reports that small and medium-sized retailers on their platform experienced an astounding 60% increase in total sales over 2019 during Cyber Week.2 Lastly, Forbes revealed that 38% of consumers are intentionally trying to support smaller retailers this holiday season.

Mobile commerce is increasingly significant

Smartphones accounted for over 50% of orders during the shopping blitz, according to SalesForce.4 Desktop still commands higher average order values (AOV) at $159 compared to $121 on smartphones, as well as significantly higher conversion rates (6.82% compared to 3.05%). This is due to frustration caused by the poor experience users often have on mobile websites due to slow page loads, content display issues and usability problems. It’s worth noting that according to Shopify, which tends to work with smaller retailers, the share of mobile conversions was closer to 70%.

Cyber Monday sets a record, but extended deals undercut its importance

Most retailers offer significant discounts during Cyber Week, averaging 20-25%. Consumers still believe that the best deals are to be had on Cyber Monday, which is why this holiday set a record for the most digital sales in one day. Interestingly, 25% of sales were completed in the final hours of the day, between 7-11pm7, a sign that shoppers wanted to take advantage of expiring deals. While the discounts were indeed heaviest on Monday, Cyber Week deals have been offered earlier and extended later, spreading out sales to the rest of the week.

One analysis found that, when averaged out, the discounts on Cyber Monday were only a few percentage points better than the rest of the week.2 Combined with the shifting dynamic of many people working from home, this could explain why YoY growth for Cyber Monday was only 15%, while YoY growth for the rest of the holiday weekend averaged between 25 -30%.

Options for BOPIS and curbside/contactless pickup are popular but underutilized

Curbside pickup increased by 30% YoY. However, only 36% of the TOP 400 retailers offered curbside pickup as of October.2 Even after the pandemic is well under control, options like Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store (BOPIS), contactless delivery and curbside pickup are likely here to stay.

In-store foot traffic is unsurprisingly down, but not as much as sales volume

The number of people physically shopping during the pandemic has been cut nearly in half this holiday season, but sales volume only fell by about 30%.6 The discrepancy is due to higher in-store conversion rates (fewer people leave without buying) and higher in-store AOV over last year. It seems that while fewer people are risking exposure by in-person shopping, those that do make it worthwhile by buying more.

Website performance is a proven difference-maker for online sales

Walmart has fully embraced digital transformation and is a fascinating case study for the effect that website speed has on digital commerce. Walmart has been prioritizing performance, and it appears to have paid off in a big way. The third-largest retailer saw a 150% YoY increase in online sales during the holiday weekend, compared to only 29% at Amazon.2 In just the first hour of Cyber Monday, Walmart experienced an explosive 637% increase in e-commerce sales.

Walmart leverages an array of techniques and technologies to deliver super-fast speeds and an easy-to-use experience to online shoppers. The results of extensive A/B studies show that a 100-millisecond delay equals a 1% drop in revenue, a 500-millisecond delay causes a 20% reduction in traffic and a 1-second delay causes a 7% decline in conversions.8

Retail is changing, but customer experience is still key

We all hope to return to business as usual rather than the ‘new normal’ we’ve become accustomed to. That said, this shift away from brick-and-mortar retail is likely to stay, as consumers prefer the convenience and the online experience continues to improve. Savvy retailers meet shopper’s expectations by offering free shipping, easy returns, convenient delivery/pickup options and a super-fast online experience. Current benchmarks set by Google’s ‘Core Web Vitals’ include a website that fully loads in under 2.5 seconds and responds to user interaction in 100 milliseconds or less. It’s important to note that Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing and therefore rates your website based on its performance on mobile devices. Check out our guide to page experience for more insights on improving mobile performance.

WompMobile leads the industry in e-commerce website performance

WompMobile is at the forefront of digital commerce and offers performance optimization to e-commerce and enterprise clients that are proven to increase traffic, engagement, and conversions. Contact us to learn more about how we can work together to future-proof your website and deliver an experience that delights users and increases online sales revenue.

References:

  1. TechCrunch, “Cyber Monday 2020
  2. DigitalCommerce360, Cyber Monday Online Sales
  3. Forbes, Cyber Monday Sales Hit $10.8 Billion
  4. SalesForce, 2020 Holiday Insights
  5. Forbes, Black Friday Weekend by the Numbers
  6. Forbes, Store Shopper Visits Down 48% to 52% On Black Friday
  7. Adobe, A Record-Breaking Cyber Week 2020: Online Shopping Steals the Show
  8. SlideShare, Walmart Pagespeed Slide
  9. BigCommerce, 2020 Cyber Week Trends Report