With strong Thanksgiving weekend retail e-commerce sales extending to business customers, B2B companies like Bulbs.com are sparking holiday season sales with Cyber Monday promotions—like offering a free Apple watch to customers who spend $3,999.

It’s not nearly as widespread as in business-to-consumer e-commerce, but more B2B sellers are actively getting on board with the Monday after Thanksgiving, also referred to as Cyber Monday.

That’s because with this Cyber Monday expected to be the largest online shopping day in history—generating a whopping $7.8 billion in sales, up 17.6% from 2017, according to Adobe Analytics—more B2B sellers are beginning to take notice.

“It is a reminder of how ingrained web shopping has become a part of our daily existence,” says Brian Beck, senior vice president of e-commerce and omnichannel at B2B web design and development firm Guidance and a well-known B2B e-commerce analyst. “B2B buyers are consumers in their personal lives.”

Unlike the business-to-consumer e-commerce buying cycle over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend and Cyber Monday, which is closely watched and measured by multiple e-commerce technology companies like Adobe, there are no true estimates of B2B sales. But there are lots of instances where B2B sites of varying size want to take advantage of any Cyber Monday opportunity.

Testing B2B Cyber Monday deals

“One of my clients, a mid-market manufacturer of dental equipment has an e-commerce site, and as an experiment during a recent holiday period, they ran a Cyber Monday promotion on component parts for their equipment and saw a sizable bump in e-commerce sales,” Beck says. “I found this strange since people generally shop for consumer items on Cyber Monday, but dental offices shopping for drill bits? Apparently so.”

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Beck says more B2B sites will begin to take on a bigger trial-and-error approach and experiment with more Cyber Monday marketing—and deals. “Consumer-type behaviors are influencing business buying when transactions are conducted online, and while it has not been the case historically for B2B buyers to enjoy holiday deals, perhaps even this is changing,” Beck says. “In the case of my client, dental assistants were feeling the urge to buy more equipment for their offices on Cyber Monday, and save their businesses some money in the process.”

 

Mike Connors, CEO, Bulbs.com

Bulbs.com, which generates about 85% of its sales on the web, usually sees an uptick in sales and traffic on Cyber Monday and through the next two days. “We see a slight increase in traffic on Black Friday, but we see a substantial increase in traffic during that whole cyber week, particularly Monday through Wednesday,” says CEO Mike Connors. “I believe our B2B customers are busy looking for deals on maintenance repair and operations (MRO) supplies during the week when doing some personal shopping as well and hit our site along the way.” Bulbs.com, which caters to small and medium-sized businesses, sells light bulbs, fixtures and related lighting products to companies in the real estate management, hospitality, food service and related industries.

Bulbs.com, which launched in 1999 as a web store selling lighting products and generates annual e-commerce sales of about $20 million, says it targets B2B buyers throughout the week after Thanksgiving with special deals.

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Getting a free Apple watch

For example, its Cyber Monday deals this year included a $50 Amazon gift card on a purchase of at least $499 worth of lighting products. In another deal, it included the latest Apple watch for buyers spending a minimum of $3,999. To create a sense of buyer urgency, Bulbs.com also uses a stopwatch feature that counts down the time buyers have to purchase the latest cyber week special.

Since B2B buyers of lighting projects typically have longer buying cycles and more specialized purchasing needs than consumers do, Bulbs.com doesn’t offer any special promotions on free shipping. “We try to make attractive offers that are intended to increase average order value as opposed to just attracting an order,” Connors says. “As for shipping, we offer free shipping at $99 all year long at don’t reduce the hurdle as it tends to attract smaller unprofitable orders.”

What is more important to Bulbs.com, Connors says, is engaging business buyers all the way through the fourth quarter—and the holiday season. “There is a seasonal holiday increase among our retail customers that starts in October, less of an increase for the hospitality segment,” he says. “We try to get in front of the retail segment well before Thanksgiving to make sure they’re given ample opportunity to buy replacement bulbs and, if they’re interested, to consider a lighting upgrade to LED fixtures.”

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