We’ve crunched the numbers for the week of Thanksgiving. We wanted to find evidence on whether Black Friday or Cyber Monday, in terms of sales and transactions, proved to be more successful for online retailers. Last time we did this report was in 2015, and while there are many similarities, there are a few significant differences.
We collected sales data from 11/21/17 until 11/29/17, and the graphs and implications are representative of sales from online marketplaces and shopping carts like Amazon, eBay, and Shopify. To have a clear picture of online sales, the data we collected includes only ecommerce sales, any sales from our customers’ brick and mortar stores have been excluded.
This data will help online retailers, like you, understand buyer behavior so you can create better ecommerce marketing strategies in 2018. Here are our findings:
1. Cyber Monday is Huge, but Black Friday is Still a Big Money Maker
The chart below shows Cyber Monday was clearly the winner of daily sales and transactions, but Black Friday wasn’t far behind. In fact, Cyber Monday only had about 1.3 times the sales of Black Friday.
This is quite a difference from the 2015 report, when Cyber Monday sales were about 2.5 times more than Black Friday. The Tuesday and Wednesday after Thanksgiving were the second biggest money maker days and Thanksgiving Day sales came in at the lowest, but only by a fraction.
CAPTION: Cyber Monday was clearly the winner in sales.
Actionable Tip for 2018: Maintaining the right amount of inventory will probably be one of your biggest challenges of Thanksgiving week. Preparation is everything.
Start sales forecasting early. Taking the time to study past year’s sales data, the typical time it takes to receive new products from suppliers, and your current stock levels will prevent many inventory issues such as overselling. Also, using an inventory management software can help you maintain accurate stock levels while assisting with forecasting.
Keep in mind that the Tuesday and Wednesday after Cyber Monday are also big sales days. Make sure you take these two days into account when planning your restocking plans. Also, think about running various specials and promotions on those days, not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Related: Tips to prevent overselling.
2. Shoppers Start Early on Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Sales and transactions began to increase around the 7am mark and grew steadily until lunchtime for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These numbers stayed consistently high until late into the night, with a boost on both days at around the 8pm hour.
Actionable Tip for 2018: Aside from the difference in the amount of sales and transactions, you can see that both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have nearly the same schedule. Cyber Monday jumps a little higher in the evening. With this information, you can build more effective email campaigns (by the hour!) at the times when shoppers are at their peak buying activity.
3. Free Shipping is the New Normal
Customers expect free shipping when shopping online. Amazon Prime greatly contributes to this “new normal” with their free two-day shipping policy.
As you can see in the chart below, there is a consistently high number of transactions each day that offered free shipping.
Actionable Tip for 2018: Most retailers seem to have jumped on the free shipping boat. If you haven’t, consider offering free shipping, as well. If you don’t offer it, potential customers may look elsewhere to find it – and will probably be able to find other retailers offering a similar product with free shipping.
At the very least, consider setting a sales threshold for free shipping. This option will satisfy those shoppers looking for a deal and won’t compromise your bottom line.
Related: How to make free shipping a reality.
4. Expensive Items Aren’t Popular
According to our data, majority of the transaction amounts for Cyber Monday and Black Friday stayed under $500. Tuesday and Wednesday before and after Thanksgiving generated the most high-dollar transactions. Back in 2015, Black Friday had more big-ticket item purchases, which is not the case this past Black Friday.
Actionable Tip for 2018: If your online store sells products with a higher price point, consider running special marketing campaigns on Tuesdays and Wednesdays before and after Thanksgiving. Offer specials, discounts, or promotions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to boost sales of those large ticket items.