What Cyber Monday Taught Us About E-Commerce Trends

Posted on November 28, 2018

Cyber Monday 2018 has come and gone, putting the most profitable time of the e-commerce year in the rearview mirror. As expected, almost every e-commerce sales record was set once again this year. But what do these new benchmarks tell us about e-commerce going forward? Let’s try to explain with these five things Cyber Monday taught us about the future of e-commerce:

Mobile is coming

Black Friday was the first day in history to reach $2 billion in mobile sales according to Adobe Analytics. That was good for 33.5 percent of all e-commerce sales on the day, a 29 percent increase from a year ago. Mobile sales reached $2.1 billion on Cyber Monday, making the total for both days greater than $4 billion. Thanksgiving Day was also impressive for mobile with smartphone purchases accounting for 36.7 percent of sales while driving 54.4 percent of the traffic on e-commerce sites.

We’ve known for some time that consumers are becoming increasingly likely to make mobile purchases. That was verified in a resounding from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. It’s clearly time to start optimizing for the mobile experience if you aren’t already.

Free shipping is in demand

Amazon has made free shipping more of an expectation than a luxury for online shoppers. The problem with that is not many businesses outside of Amazon can afford to take such a hit all year long. But for special events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s probably doable to some extent and certainly worth it. If you’re not providing free shipping options here and there, you should be aware your competition very likely has an advantage over you. For example, 81 percent of sales on Thanksgiving included free shipping according to Internet Retailer.

Direct traffic drove the most sales, but that’s misleading

Direct traffic to e-commerce sites accounted for 27.2 percent of sales during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday rush. While direct traffic tops paid search, natural search, and email on that list, that’s misleading. For one thing, it’s a statistic skewed by the direct traffic the major retail brands are generating. And when you look at the minimal percentage differences for paid search (24 percent), natural search (20.8 percent), and email (20.4 percent), it becomes obvious those routes are also plenty effective. It’s also very likely direct traffic is boosted significantly by one of the other methods originally making the consumer aware of a brand.

It’s becoming Cyber Month

This year felt increasingly like a Cyber Month more than just Cyber Monday. That’s because many online retailers started the sales extravaganza early, offering deals as early as the beginning of November. The result was $58.5 billion in sales from Nov. 1 through Nov. 26 with each day during that stretch reaching at least $1 billion. That’s an overall increase of 20 percent from the same period in 2017. It seems clear e-commerce is trending towards having a true Cyber Month going forward.

E-commerce is exceeding expectations

It’s no surprise Cyber Monday set e-commerce records this year. New records each year have been the expectation for quite some time. But even with projections set at a lofty $7.8 billion just before the sales event, Cyber Monday shot past that by reaching nearly $8 billion. We’re clearly trending more and more toward a world were e-commerce dominates the retail scene.