Ecomdash ran reports during the week of Thanksgiving – from the Wednesday before, to the Wednesday after – to determine which day of that week was truly the most successful for ecommerce small to medium sized business retailers. We wanted to find concrete evidence on whether or not Black Friday has surpassed Cyber Monday in terms of sales and transactions for ecommerce sellers, as some have claimed, as well as whether or not offering free shipping matters over the holiday weekend. From midnight 11/15 to midnight 12/2, ecomdash pulled customer data on the number of sales orders, value of transactions, free shipping totals and more. The below graphs and implications represent data from Amazon.com, eBay, Shopify, Magento, 3dcart, Bigcommerce, ZenCart, Newegg.com, Rakuten and GunBroker.com. We excluded data from our integrated POS (point of sale) systems, as to reflect true ecommerce totals and remove sales data from our customers’ brick and mortar stores. Here’s what we found.
1. Cyber Monday still reigns.
Despite contrary reports, Black Friday is not the new Cyber Monday. Our data – when we removed sales and transactions from Point of Sale Software that records brick and mortar sales – showed that Cyber Monday still reigns supreme in terms of sales and transactions. In fact, Cyber Monday saw 2.5 times the sales and transactions that occurred on Thanksgiving Day. The second most profitable day was Black Friday. Following that were the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, then the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Actionable tip for Small-Mid Sized Businesses – Unless you also have a brick and mortar store, Cyber Monday will likely be your top grossing day. That said, Black Friday, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the Wednesday after also show high sales. Make sure you have enough inventory to last through the whole week, and maybe space out your discounts to stay competitive longer (as opposed to marking everything down on Cyber Monday alone).
2. Cyber Monday starts at 7am.
Our data shows that shoppers begin making purchases at 7am ET on Cyber Monday. The bulk of these sales peak in the afternoon, around 2 to 3pm ET. Sales spike again later in the evening. Back when broadband and the internet was available only in office spaces and considered a luxury to have at home, shoppers would make purchases while they were at work on Cyber Monday. Retailers had a roughly 9-5 window to make their sales. Now that we can get online from our phones, tablets and home computers, Cyber Monday starts early, and continues late into the night.
Actionable tip for SMBs – Retailers should implement a better email marketing strategy that targets shoppers at each peak spending time. Send out 3 email campaigns – one in the morning before 7am ET, the second around 12pm ET, and the third around 6pm ET. These emails will capture early morning, mid-afternoon and evening shoppers that are coming online in droves. Be cautious with your PPC (pay per click) advertising as well. Don’t blow through all of your budget in the morning on Cyber Monday. Instead, spend that money in the afternoon when sales peak.
3. Free shipping does not equate better sales.
At least, not during Thanksgiving week. Though more and more retailers are moving toward offering free shipping year round (and we support this), there is a misconception that offering free shipping will guarantee better sales. While it can certainly help establish loyal, repeat buyers, which leads to better sales over time, it will not spike sales drastically over one week alone. 68% of our customers offered free shipping throughout the Thanksgiving holiday – yet they did not show better sales versus retailers with paid shipping.
Actionable tip for SMBs – People shop online during the Thanksgiving week for convenience, not necessarily because they are expecting free shipping. If none of your competitors are offering free shipping, you may not have to either and can still expect good sales. If the thought of abandoning free shipping during the Thanksgiving holiday feels taboo, try setting a minimum cart value for buyers to “earn” it. This can even encourage higher order volumes, which may contribute to better profits overall.
4. Buyers spend the most in single transactions on Black Friday.
According to the order value of sales that occurred from 12am to 12pm on Black Friday in our database, shoppers spent the most money on single orders during this day. This likely stems from the brick and mortar roots of Black Friday, where everyone is running out to be mauled in the streets so they can buy a new flat screen TV.
Actionable tip for SMBs – If you sell high dollar items, don’t write off Black Friday just because you sell online. Spend more of your efforts on this day with targeted email campaigns, a PPC budget for this day, and sales on some of your top dollar items. Shoppers want to avoid the mobs at major brick and mortar retailers, but still want to get a fancy new Keurig for 40% off. Let them know you are marking down your high price goods, and won’t even make them leave the house to buy them. They can have their cake and eat it too.