​Cyber Monday 2015: What we've learned about e-commerce so far

Cyber Monday has kicked off and what's clear so far is that the nuances of e-commerce have shifted a bit from a year ago.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Cyber Monday is about to kick off and there are a bevy of metrics indicating that the big finale of a five-day holiday shopping binge will feature shifting dynamics.

In short, Google Shopping is cannibalizing search; smartphones are driving share even as the desktop/mobile ratios are consistent with a year ago; and e-mail marketing still carries weight.

Overall, IBM said that Black Friday online sales were up 21.5 percent from a year ago. Amazon obviously benefited, but omnichannel retailers are also driving the move as many sales started on Thanksgiving day.

Here are eight takeaways to ponder ahead of Cyber Monday.

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Tablets had higher average order values for the first time. According to IBM's data for Black Friday, average orders from tablets were $136.42 compared to desktops at $134.06. Smartphone shoppers spent $121.06 per order on Black Friday, up 4.2 percent from 2014. However, Adobe noted that tablets drove 15 percent of sales on Black Friday, down 2 percent from a year ago.

Smartphones remain the device of choice. On Black Friday, smartphones accounted for 44.7 percent of all online traffic, according to IBM. On Thanksgiving Day, ChannelAdvisor data put smartphone traffic at 52 percent and 49 percent on Black Friday.

The ways we find deals are shifting. ChannelAdvisor, which is tracking the five key cyber sale days, provided data that highlighted key fluctuations from a year ago. For instance, eBay same store sales were up 7 percent from a year ago on Thanksgiving, but gained just 1.5 percent on Black Friday before rebounding 3.6 percent on Cyber Saturday. Comparison shopping engines also lost clout after Thanksgiving. Amazon's same store sales tally sat between gains of 20 percent and 30 percent over Thanksgiving through Saturday. Search barely posted a gain on Thanksgiving and fell Black Friday and Cyber Saturday.

Here's a look at the Channel Advisor data over the first three cyber sale days.


Google Shopping/PLA matters (GS in the chart above). The fate of comparison shopping engines and potentially eBay are being hit by consumers using Google Shopping to find the best prices. Channel Advisor also noted that Google Shopping is cannibalizing its own search results.

Apple devices drive commerce. For instance, Custora found that 77.6 percent of all orders were made via Apple devices with 22.1 delivered by Android. iPhones and iPads continued to drive the majority of mobile sales with 67 and 84 percent, respectively, according to Adobe.

Apple Watch trending down. Everyone and their mother is watching Apple Watch sales and Wall Street analysts will be trying to figure out sales. IBM's Watson Trend app shows Apple Watch buzz declining to No. 2 behind Samsung TVs through Sunday. A trip to Best Buy revealed a lot of folks checking out technology, but the Apple Watch appeared to be more curiosity than must purchase. Time will tell, but the overanalysis of the Apple Watch is just starting. Meanwhile, Adobe's noted the top five electronics sold on Black Friday were Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPad Air 2, Microsoft Xbox One, Apple iPad Mini and Sony PS4,

E-mail marketing matters. The strongest channel for online sales was email marketing, which accounted for 25.1 percent of transactions, according to Custora, which tracks e-commerce and benchmarks retailers.

Social doesn't drive e-commerce sales yet. Custora also found that social media drove only 1.7 percent of sales.

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