TECHNOLOGY

When did the most Black Friday weekend sales really occur?

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Online transactions rose during Thanksgiving weekend, however that’s not when the strongest growth happened.

This was according to data from Hitwise that revealed the top 50 retail sites processed 75.1 million transactions via desktop and mobile browsers during the seven days ending Monday, Nov. 26. This was up from 65.5 million for the same period in 2017, an increase of 15%.

However, non-peak days posted transaction increases of 20%, on average, versus 11% growth on the three peak days of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The day before Thanksgiving is becoming especially important, as daily transactions reached 7.6 million this year, up 40% from the day before Thanksgiving in 2017.

“Interestingly, the three peak shopping days—while posting increases strong increases—saw their share of peak week transactions decline slightly to 59% from 61% year-over-year, pointing to a growing importance of the non-peak days of peak week,” said John Fetto, Hitwise senior analyst.

Overall, 44.5 million transactions were completed on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, up from 40.0 million in 2017. Cyber Monday was again the top buying day of the week with 16 million transactions (up from 14.6 million in 2017), followed by Black Friday with 14.8 million transactions (up from 13.0 million in 2017). Thanksgiving Day had 13.7 million transactions (up from 12.5 million in 2017).

When it came to overall online visits, there were 2.3 billion visits during peak week, up a modest 2.4% year-over-year. Traffic to these sites the week prior was up 3.7% year-over-year, providing evidence that Americans were lured online earlier than usual by week-long Black Friday sales.

Amazon still dominated the week, accounting for 26% of visits, and 59% of all transactions processed by the top 50 retailers. However, Amazon’s share of both visits and transactions were at their lowest point of the year during peak week due to intense competition from other retailers. By comparison, between January and October, Amazon accounts for 31% of visits and 79% of transactions, data revealed.

Year-over-year, top retailers captured a greater concentration of sales across the top three days of peak week. Specifically, sales were up 3% among the top 10 retailers. Among those top retailers, some performed better than others. Amazon, for instance, saw transactions increase between 11% and 18% over the three peak shopping days and even managed to capture a slightly greater share of transactions this year versus last.

Kohl’s, Target and Costco, however, posted among the strongest growth year-over-year in terms of transactions. Kohl’s saw transactions increase 51% over the three peak shopping days, and share of transactions increased 35%. Target, saw transactions increase 48%, and share increased 33%. Costco’s transactions increased 61% and share rose 45%, according to the study.

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TECHNOLOGY

Grocery Retail 2019: Five predictions

BY Marianne Wilson

Grocery retail is going through a significant reinvention as it continues to move into the era of the consumer. Below, Sy Fahimi, senior VP product strategy, Symphony RetailAI, provides his predictions on what retailers will be focusing on in 2019.

Rise of voice in retail. While voice ordering is still in its infancy, the rise of voice assistants in other areas of retail demonstrates the value of speech recognition. As voice continues to grow in popularity, we’ll see it assist consumers, improving efficiency around ordering groceries and delivering to their fridge. Voice technology can also be implemented internally to stream-line a retailer’s processes and operations.

Online grocery shopping makes gains. Online will become a bigger part of the overall shopping experience. While in-store and online will continue to converge into one channel – allowing consumers to order online and pick up in store, or use click and collect – online will play a larger role in influencing purchases, as consumers get inspiration from social media use or viewing recipes, for example.

Grocers will also become much more adept at providing consistent and engaging updates for online customers, a la GrubHub or Dominos, giving them valuable real-time insight into their order status and reducing the friction between in-store control and online convenience.

The blurring of channels. Shoppers are always connected and always on their phone. Because of this, we’re not only going to see the blurring of lines between online and in-store, but between every channel.

Independent channels, formats and brands will all blur to become more experience-based. For example, we will see more grocery stores that also have restaurants and banks inside, which is how retailers will be able to compete with Amazon. With Amazon, the consumer experience is always the same, no matter the product purchased, so it’s up to retailers to provide a friendly and engaging shopping environment.

Empowered consumers demand fresh and local. We’ll see continued, accelerated growth around fresh and local foods. Consumers are more informed, empowered and selective in terms of what they want to eat more than ever, requiring more product transparency, especially when it comes to a food’s source.

Private labels accelerate CPG innovation. Discount supermarkets have invested in private label products, and as a result of this, the quality of private label has caught up to the brand itself. Shoppers have more choices than ever, and for a much lower cost can buy private label items. This is an issue for CPGs currently distributing their products through the stores, as this model is being disrupted.

For the first time, CPGs are looking at direct-to-consumer ways to promote their brand and influence shoppers, instead of relying on retailers. As a result, CPGs have begun to create data management platforms as they influence and communicate with consumers.

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It’s beginning to look like a mobile Christmas

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

More consumers kicked off their holiday shopping through mobile devices and social media.

This was according to “Shopper-First Retailing,” a study from Salesforce that reported more shoppers than ever started their holiday shopping on a phone during the Black Friday weekend. In fact, mobile traffic hovered around 70% for the majority of the week.

More shoppers also made purchases on their phones this year than any other device. Mobile order share was the highest on Thanksgiving Day at 54% compared to 49% on Black Friday, and 45% on Cyber Monday.

Social media was once again a critical component that helped drive traffic to retail sites. Facebook and Instagram alone drove 94% of all social traffic to retail sites, up slightly from 92% in 2017. As Cyber Week deals wound down, shoppers talked about gadgets, big retailers and – in a crafty surprise – Etsy, the online artisan marketplace.

The five most-talked-about retailers on social media during Cyber Week were Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, eBay and Best Buy. The five most-talked-about products during the same time-frame were Sony PlayStation, Apple iPhone, Amazon Echo, Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle.

Shoppers also stepped up their digital usage for customer service. While customer service agents viewed 10% more service cases this Cyber Monday compared to last, shoppers weren’t just picking up the phone. Calls to customer service centers saw a slight year-over-year decline, as consumers shift the way they engage with customer service by turning to digital channels like social, messaging and chat.

Preparing for this shift toward more digital shoppers, retailers also quickly ramped up discount rates on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving. They stayed elevated throughout the weekend and ended with a bang on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday saw a record 31% average discount rate.

Marketers enticed shoppers with SMS and email notifications early in the week, up 159% and 26% year-over-year respectively, on Thanksgiving Day, compared to a 69% increase in SMS notifications and 23% increase in email sends on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday saw 84% of orders ship for free, impacting average order value (AOV), as shoppers did not have to to add additional items to their carts to avoid shipping costs.

“Consumers went online early, went mobile and went social this Cyber Week, driving healthy digital growth for retailers,” said Rob Garf, VP, industry strategy for retail, Salesforce. “This holiday season, shoppers responded to retailer innovation in mobile, payments and social that are enabling seamless and personalized consumer experiences — from product discovery to purchase.”

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