What have retailers learned from 2014’s Cyber Weekend?
First there was Black Friday, then there was Cyber Monday, and this year saw Cyber Weekend become the new phrase of choice for the annual sales event that has a scope now far beyond its original post US Thanksgiving roots.
For the consumer market there have been multiple channels for years now but this year saw major changes in the way retailers are making use of this most coordinated of all international sales event, that spans the in-store and online buyer.
Arguably against a backdrop where consumer confidence has not been high this year and cost of living still feels challenging for many it is little wonder that the allure of great deals close to Christmas would bring out the masses, and out they came in force! With the exception of a few viral videos of chaos at some supermarkets, most consumers approached the event with the intent of snagging bargains and, now empowered by the revolution following huge rates of mobile and tablet adoption, coupled with the convenience of shopping from anywhere, the surge in online sales set many records among individual retailers.
Online is becoming big business with mobile
Retailers have a lot more to gain from their online platforms than ever before. With the increase of mobile devices in the market that make it more convenient, customers are now shopping online on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Smart retailers this year saw this opportunity and maximised on this not only by making deals available for customers for the whole weekend across all their channels but invested in ensuring a great user experience whether the customer accessed the sale on a mobile or tablet. By making interfaces relevant, intuitive and swift the barriers to accessing products were reduced and conversion rates were high. Looking ahead, with well over 50 per cent of online sales now via mobiles and tablets, Retailers must embrace the differentiated user experience needed for each.
The Extended event offers the greatest opportunity to those that align their in-store and online experience.
In the UK the Cyber Weekend really came of age this year with the event being advertised by retailers to whet the appetite of consumers to come in store or go online between the 28th November and the 1st December. For marketing to be effective the message needs to be consistent to the end user and, unless clearly signposted, offers should be consistent and accessible. Clearly, limited lines on greater discounts create the in-store footfall to move stock, but online offers ease the fulfilment process and enable the sale to truly scale beyond the physical premises and that stock that can be carried there.
User-experience can be the difference between a quick-fire sale and vanishing customer
With the majority of major retailers having an online presence today, competition is becoming fierce as consumers can contrast and compare deals at lightening speed on a normal day. With online retailers battling it out to offer the best deals, it’s becoming more important not to give customers any reason to leave your website by making the experience compelling, efficient and enjoyable. This was even more important on Cyber Weekend, with consumers specifically trawling websites quickly to get the best deals. If they dropped off your website through poor experience, as well as losing a deal, you risk losing loyalty or the appetite to return. The most prepared retailers have thought about every aspect of their online shop and customer journey through the site extremely carefully, from how products are displayed right through to how they checkout.
4. Service is King! Downtime can be avoided.
With so much hype, pent up demand and expectation, there is little excuse for failing to prepare for demand. In the age of cloud computing and a huge web based lifestyle and economy it’s becoming less excusable for retail websites to experience operational downtime. For many retailers, Cyber Weekend is the biggest sales event of the year and every effort needs to be made to generate as many sales in this short space of time. Tryzens, all of whose customers had full service and performance throughout the weekend, believes that timely and proactive system health checks, planning and preparation are essential, combined with clear accountability for maintaining service availability with the monitoring tools and service skills available 24/7 are pre-requisites for any serious retailer. It is noteworthy that a number of high profile and leading retailers still experienced suspension of service or outages over the weekend, which is likely to have had a considerable impact on sales performance.
Looking back on the tremendous success here in the UK surrounding Cyber Weekend, even more retailers will be looking to enhance their ability and agility to scale and align their cross channel experience well ahead of next November to capitalise on a specific time when an increasing nation of consumers are actively looking for bargains!
· UK retailers deliver on Black Friday Weekend, reports MetaPack – 39% increase in Cyber Monday delivery volumes, plus 82% rise in weekend shipments
MetaPack, the leading provider of eCommerce technology for delivery services has released its data on how retailers delivered over Black Friday Weekend and into Cyber Monday – Cyber Weekend.
The company confirmed that the UK Christmas shopping started on a high this year with MetaPack systems coordinating demand for 2.5 million parcels, or a thousand parcels a minute.
Commenting on how UK retailers and carriers performed over Black Friday Weekend, Patrick Wall, founder and CEO, MetaPack said: “This year’s introduction of Sunday services has ensured everyone received their on-line orders on time. Despite some reports of eCommerce systems straining to keep up with demand, this first test of Christmas online retail went well because UK eCommerce has significantly evolved to now operate a seven days a week delivery standard. This meant Black Friday volume could be delivered over the weekend with high rates of Saturday and Sunday deliveries. In other years some deliveries would have been held back until the Monday.”
Even with deliveries spread over the weekend, MetaPack reported a significant increase in delivery volumes on Cyber Monday with a 39% rise in number of parcels dispatched compared to the previous Monday. There was also an 86% increase in the number of cross border shipments compared to 2013, revealing how international consumers are contributing to the UK Cyber Monday mania.
“Cyber Monday was a record breaking day for MetaPack. What’s significant for the industry is that we’re still forecasting the same volumes on the next two Mondays with Monday 15th being the highest peak for parcels being dispatched. It’s worth reminding ourselves that the Christmas Peak has only just started and there’s a lot more eCommerce to happen,” added Wall.
As retailers respond to increased consumer demand for greater choice and convenience across all channels, their supply chains are having to accommodate far greater complexity such as increased demand from outside the UK, a wider range of alternative delivery points and the enormous success of click and collect that’s fast becoming many retailers’ preferred low cost offering for predictable, convenient deliveries.
Cyber Monday has been a growing phenomenon in the past few years with shoppers increasingly flocking to online websites to do their Christmas shopping. This year’s record sales haven’t come as a surprise, as October 2014 saw a 26% increase in the total volume of parcels dispatched compared to the same month last year, reinforcing the forecast that this Christmas will be the busiest ever. By the end of this year, UK retailers are expected to dispatch a record 890 million orders and 925 million parcels, with more than 115 million of these orders expected to be dispatched in December alone.
The surge in online shopping over Black Friday Weekend and into Cyber Monday is facilitated by the numerous ways in which retailers and carriers are innovating with delivery, making a wider range of alternative services available to consumers and improving the overall experience. This is evidenced by the fact that MetaPack’s data recorded an increased demand for Specified Day and Time Slot services in November compared with the same month last year. The demand for other alternative delivery options such as Next Day Delivery is expected to grow in the second half of December as shoppers race to get their final online orders home in time for Christmas.