Cyber Monday still strong, but Internet influence grows across Thanksgiving weekend shopping
The term Cyber Monday came into use in 2005 when retailers noticed that the post-Black Friday shopping excitement had carried over to Monday morning.
Monday was significant because it was the day when many people returned to work and access to high-speed Internet. Today, with the ubiquitous access to technology and the Internet, the line between Cyber Monday and Black Friday is being blurred into a grayish smudge.
“Customers don’t see lines between channels anymore, it’s all about the different ways they can interact with a brand or retailer.”
This blurring doesn’t mean that Black Friday deals or Cyber Monday deals are going away. Black Friday has been pushed earlier than ever, and according to numbers from Shop.org, nearly 30 percent of online retailers are offering online-only deals during the holidays and more than 44 percent will be offering free shipping without conditions.
However, the way consumers shop during these holidays may not be the same as it once was.
“The idea of luring people in with a great deal and then they’re captive in your store doesn’t work as well as it used to even five years ago,” customer satisfaction firm ForeSee CEO Larry Freed said.
“From a retail perspective the idea of Black Friday is once people were in your store they would buy other non-sale items.”
Freed said the emergence of mobile Internet access and mobile shopping has turned that concept on its head as shoppers are now able to instantly compare prices online to prices they find in stores.
“Last year Amazon even had a promotion where they’d give you $5 off an item if you scanned it on your phone in the store to their website to check the price,” he said.
“It was a really aggressive and creative promotion to drive brick-and-mortar sales online.”
While much of the excitement and competition around Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals surround large national chains, Krueger said Google has seen a resurgence of the importance of Internet shopping to local retailers as well.
She said part of what Google had done to help retailers is include local results in Google Shopping searches.
“Now when you want a product, you can see if it’s in stock in a store near you and what special deals they might be having,” she said.
The ability to show deals on Google’s shopping search also is a new development that was unveiled Nov. 13. Krueger said that while before they had only been able to show base level pricing, the new deals display will allow customers to find bigger deals on specific items even more easily.
The easier it is to find deals, the more quickly people will snap them up, and Google has seen significant growth in online shopping and online shopping searches not just on Cyber Monday but throughout the Thanksgiving weekend. Like Black Friday, the trends are moving earlier, and the surprise online shopping star last year was Thanksgiving day.
“Last year online sales jumped just under 40 percent from the previous year on Thanksgiving Day,” she said.
“We used to go into a turkey coma after eating. Now people are getting ready, mapping out their plans, and doing some purchasing right then because a lot of their research is online and they can buy things right then as well.”
While reminiscing about looking through catalogues and coupons for the best Black Friday deals in the pre-Internet days, Krueger said Google continues to see increases in online deal searching. Searches for “Black Friday” are up 24 percent so far this year, following last year's double-digit gains in the search term.
Freed said the increasing use of phones in stores and websites to find deals at brick-and-mortar establishments means that the heavy peaks and valleys that stores used to see throughout the weekend are leveling out.
“It isn’t necessarily good or bad for business, but the idea of ‘Cyber Monday’ or ‘Black Friday’ is a little less important this year than last year,” he said.
“This is because Black Friday is now Thursday evening and online retailers are starting offering their deals as early as Monday or Tuesday. At this rate, in a few years the holiday shopping season could start on July 5.”
Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2