More than a billion dollars in online shopping during Cyber Monday

12/01/2011 -by:Silvina Moschini , CEO & Founder, Intuic | The Social Media Agency

The use of social networks boosted the major American e-commerce day celebrated three days after Black Friday.

The tradition comes from the mid-60s. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, drives millions of American consumers into the streets to jumpstart their Christmas shopping by taking advantage of huge discounts. For the last few years, e-commerce has added a new twist to this traditional phenomenon.

Beginning in 2006, it has become customary for Black Friday’s deals to be available the following Monday, but only online. This is the origin of the so-called Cyber Monday opportunity for consumers who wish to shop from the office without waiting long hours in lines and without using fuel to take advantage of the bargains they missed on the traditional American shopping day.

As has been the case since it began, it seems that Cyber Monday sales will better their own record again this year,exceeding the billion dollars spent in 2010. According to preliminary information from IBM Benchmark, the increase in consumption will be around 20%; some days earlier, the consulting firm comScore predicted that billing would be around $1.2 billion or $1.3 billion. Moreover, the online impact extends to the traditional Black Friday sales. Mercent, a consulting firm specializing in e-commerce, reports that during the last Black Friday, online operations volume registered an increase of 23%. 

The results for the online store PriceGrabber are even more impressive: according to their statistics, almost 40% of consumers planned to shop during Cyber Monday, which represents 37% more than in 2010. This is mainly because of the bargains and because many companies (Apple among them) offer free shipping for all their products, something that is highly valued in a country the size of the United States.

This year another feature also has influenced the trend: the use of social networks to take full advantage of Cyber Monday. According to Deloitte LP, 57% of consumers plan to use social networks to find the best discounts, 51% have thought to review comments, and 49% are looking forward to using the social networks to find ideas for Christmas gifts.

A growth that does not stop

Beyond this experience of online offers, it is undeniable that the trend for consumers to turn to e-commerce continues.According to a study by JP Morgan, during 2011 the sale of products and services through the Internet will increase 19%, reaching $680 billion. By 2013, the company anticipates that online sales could reach the amazing amount of $963 billion.

This phenomenon has many causes. Of course, discounts are the engines propelling online shopping. In addition, IBM estimates that almost 20% of the Cyber Monday trades were done through mobile devices. This means that consumers capitalize on the comfort and flexibility of their tablets or smartphones to take advantage of the bargains merchants offer. 

Furthermore, many consumers chose online shopping because they can easily compare prices and product quality and characteristics. According to an Ebates survey, users think that Internet shopping provides greater product variety and selection.

Cyber Monday starts spreading to the rest of the world

As online sale platforms become more reliable and expand their catalogues, the phenomenon known as Cyber Monday has started to move beyond the borders of the United States and is being replicated elsewhere in the world—Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany, among other European states.

In Spain some companies have held some promotions but with much smaller results than in the United States. Fnac, Apple, and K-tuin offered some discounts, but many others such as Amazon, Inditex and Privalia did not participate in Cyber Monday. The sales site for sports’ articles, however, did celebrate Cyber Monday with a 15% discount on all its products and, according to the company’s online marketing director, Héctor Mainar, the site exceeded its historic record of visits and sales. 

In Latin America, Cyber Monday has also been celebrated but with some variations and varying results. In Chile, the Chamber of Commerce promoted a very similar project to the one in the United States, with discounts during the whole Monday at seven of the country’s most important online stores. Although the organizers announced that the sales were quadrupled, the result was not positive for consumers, since the huge increase in traffic led to a massive collapse of the sites that participated in the promotion. Users were upset about the technical difficulties and expressed their anger on the social networks.

In Mexico, on the other hand, the experience was very positive, since they offered more time and sites for shopping. The initiative was called “The good end” ('El buen fin') and lasted all weekend: the discounts were valid for both online and traditional stores. The Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, was highly satisfied with the results and pointed out that sales increased37% during last weekend.