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IBM: Cyber Monday online spending surges 33%

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Online sales on Cyber Monday were up 33% over 2010, with shopping peaks occurring at 2:05 p.m. EST, according to IBM’s fourth annual Cyber Monday Benchmark study. The average ticket increased 2.6% to $198.26, compared with $193.24 last year.

Among other key Cyber Monday Benchmark findings:

  • Nearly 11% (10.8%) of people used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 3.9% in 2010. Additionally, mobile sales grew dramatically, reaching 6.6% on Cyber Monday versus 2.3% in 2010.
  • When comparing Cyber Monday 2011 to Black Friday 2011, online sales were up 29.3% on Monday versus Friday.
  • On Cyber Monday mobile traffic averaged 10.8%, compared with 14.3% on Black Friday.
  • Consumer sales on mobile devices reached 6.6% vs. 9.8% on Black Friday.
  • Shoppers referred from social networks generated 0.56% of all online sales on Cyber Monday versus 0.53% on Black Friday. Similar to Black Friday, Facebook led the pack, accounting for 86% of all social media traffic.

"Cyber Monday was once again the big winner for the Thanksgiving holiday shopping season, with a record number of consumers focused on finding the best online deals," said John Squire, chief strategy officer, IBM Smarter Commerce. "Retailers that adopted a smarter approach to commerce, one that allowed them to swiftly adjust to the shifting shopping habits of their customers, whether in-store, online or via their mobile device, were able to fully benefit from this day and the entire holiday weekend.”

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A Christmas miracle on Black Friday

BY CSA STAFF

New York — The retail industry experienced a weekend that was a roaring success in terms of customer traffic, sales and another key metric that was overlooked: No one died! At least not in the gruesome fashion of a few years ago when a Walmart employee was trampled by an unruly mob as he opened the doors at a Long Island, NY, store on Black Friday. There was an incident this year involving an older man who collapsed at a Target store in West Virginia and later died at a hospital, but it was determined he had a pre-existing heart condition.

The retail industry has come a long way in terms of Black Friday crowd control, which is a good thing considering the mass of humanity that now turns out to shop the day after Thanksgiving. The National Retail Federation put the figure at 86 million people this year, which is a staggering number of people and increases the potential for things to go wrong based simply on the law of averages. The situation is further magnified by variables that add to the frustration factor, such as crowded parking lots, unusual operating hours and long lines for limited quantities of the best deals. It’s why the retail industry should feel pretty good that there weren’t more incidents like the one involving the man at the West Virginia Target or other high-profile incidents — such as the one involving the woman who used pepper spray to disperse a crowd of fellow shoppers at Walmart so as to gain unfettered access to promotional merchandise.

This isn’t to suggest retailers don’t have room to improve crowd-control measures, and especially the distribution of feature merchandise that typically causes people to lose control and behave like a pack of starving hyenas separating the last shreds of meat from a carcass. This type of behavior has to be seen or experienced first-hand to be believed and for that we have YouTube. It is filled with videos taken by people chronicling their Black Friday adventures, which for some reason often seem to involve Walmart. While the videos of boisterous, agitated crowds clamoring for merchandise is unsettling and evokes a gut reaction along the lines of, “what’s wrong with people?” it is important to remember that the circumstances which lead to the mob mentality is of the retailers’ doing. Marketing efforts to drive early-season sales are filled with urgency along the lines of, “grab these deals before they are gone,” “our lowest prices ever,” and “savings that won’t last.”

The desire to grab discounted merchandise and the large crowds creates a kind of competitiveness that is unsettling to watch on YouTube and scary to be part of. Large stores crammed full of people are like powder kegs that can easily be ignited when one person becomes overly zealous in their pursuit of merchandise. The retail industry can be thankful that wasn’t the case this year, given the massive turnout.

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Giant Eagle installs electric vehicle chargers at Pittsburgh-area stores

BY CSA STAFF

PITTSBURGH — Electric vehicle charging stations recently opened at three Pittsburgh-area Giant Eagle stores, the retailer said.

The EV charging stations, made possible by a collaborative effort through a Pennsylvania Department of Energy grant, now are in operation at the chain’s Robinson Township, Township of Pine and Monroeville supermarkets.

"This provides another customer-friendly service at our stores and builds on our commitment to sustainable business practices," Giant Eagle SVP real estate and development Shelly Sponholz said. "We hope that the step we are taking help ease the transition to electric vehicle ownership and meet the demand for infrastructure by current electric vehicle owners."

The EV charging stations mark Giant Eagle’s second alternative energy offering in the past four months.

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