Etsy, Nordstrom and Walmart kept their conversion rates kicking long after Cyber Monday, and six out of the nine e-commerce sites analyzed posted their season-high conversion rates after Cyber Monday.

Typically, conversion rates for online retailers during the holiday season follow a similar pattern: Increase once the calendar flips to Nov. 1, spike during the five-day Thanksgiving weekend known as the Cyber 5, gradually decline but remain elevated until tapering off as the New Year approaches.

The holiday season conversion rates for Macys.com, according to marketing analytics firm Jumpshot, is a good example of that pattern:

But a few of the nine online retailers and marketplaces analyzed by Internet Retailer and Jumpshot buck this trend in 2018.

Notably, marketplaces Amazon.com and eBay.com both had higher conversion rates on average Nov. 27-Dec. 21 compared with their Cyber 5 average. For most retailers, this would be especially remarkable because most merchants count on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for heavy sales volume and have their highest conversion rates of the season during these five days.

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However, both Amazon.com Inc. (No. 2 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Online Marketplaces) and eBay Inc. (No. 4) generate more than tens of billions of dollars in marketplace sales annually and don’t have to rely on the holiday sales spike as much as the average retailer. Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday is the period when most retailers are offering their best discounts of the year, and consumers are shopping on multiple e-commerce sites for several purchases. So, instead of  immediately going to Amazon.com to buy as they might normally do during the rest of the year, consumers are shopping around during the Cyber 5. This could be one of the reasons why these two marketplace giants see their Cyber 5 conversion rates as slightly lower compared with their pre-Black Friday average conversion rate (Sept. 1-Thanksgiving) and post-Cyber Monday conversion rates, Nov. 27-Dec. 21.

Another reason is the number of shoppers going to Amazon.com and eBay.com to price check during the Cyber 5 period at these sites that offer a massive assortment of merchandise. The increase in traffic only coming to the site for that reason “is less optimized for conversions,” says Stephen Kraus, head of digital insights at Jumpshot.

“During Cyber 5, much of the traffic is only going to visit the sites to see if there is a good deal on something they’re interested in,” Kraus says.

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Also outside of the traditional conversion rate pattern were craft marketplace Etsy Inc., department store Nordstrom Inc. and mass merchant Walmart Inc. All three of these merchants maintained a similar conversion rate during a large share of the online holiday shopping season—Nov. 27-Dec. 21—compared with their average Cyber 5 conversion rate.

For example, Etsy.com’s conversion rate average Nov. 27-Dec.21 was 4.0% compared with its Cyber 5 average of 4.1%; Nordstrom.com’s Nov. 27-Dec.21 average was 4.4% compared with 4.5% for Cyber 5; and Walmart’s Nov. 27-Dec. 21 average was 3.7% compared with 4.0% for Cyber 5, according to Jumpshot data.

This is notable for similar reasons: Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday is when most retailers traditionally have the most sales and conversion. To maintain that elevated conversion rate level is unusual.

Additionally, although many online retailers reported shoppers beginning their holiday purchasing early in the season, six of the nine retailers and marketplaces analyzed posted their highest conversion rate of the season (Nov. 1-Dec. 31) after Cyber Monday. Three of these retailers—Kohls.com, Macys.com and Target.com—had their season high on the day after Cyber Monday.

Here are the season-high conversion rates for these nine retailers and marketplaces:

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  • Thanksgiving – Walmart.com
  • Black Friday – BestBuy.com
  • Cyber Monday – Etsy.com
  • Tuesday, Nov. 27 – Kohls.com, Macys.com, Target.com
  • Dec. 3 – eBay.com
  • Dec. 14 – Nordstrom.com
  • Dec. 17 – Amazon.com

In fact, when comparing the day after after Cyber Monday with Cyber Monday itself, nearly all retailers had a higher conversion rate on Tuesday.

Although some retailers may have a higher conversion rate after the Cyber 5 period, retailers still have a lower total number of conversions/orders after the Cyber 5, Kraus says.

“Average conversion rates tended to increase after Cyber Monday because the audience visiting the sites later was more qualified—they’re shopping online and they need to buy something,” Kraus says. “It’s more a question as to what they’re going to buy than if they’re going to buy.”

Of the nine analyzed retailers and marketplaces, most had a significant decline in conversion after Dec. 21, and it was lower than their pre-Black Friday average conversion rate. Nordstrom was the expectation with a higher conversion rate (2.9%) on average on Dec. 22-31, compared with its pre-Black Friday average Sept. 1-Thanksgiving at 2.3%. The retailer had its half-year sale during this period, which could be the reason for its elevated conversion rate.

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Walmart is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500; Best Buy Co. Inc. is No. 8; Etsy, No. 19; Kohl’s Corp., No. 18; Macy’s, No. 6; Target Corp., No. 17; and Nordstrom, No. 16.

Jumpshot’s analysis is based on its review of more than 160 billion clicks on e-commerce sites made monthly by 100 million consumers globally. Jumpshot says U.S. consumers comprise a significant portion of its panel. Jumpshot tracks the clickstream of consumers to track on-site searches, product page views and online conversion points. The conversion rates include mobile and desktop, but exclude apps.


In an ongoing effort to understand the most vital business strategies of merchants that sell online, Internet Retailer is taking a deep dive on conversion rate. Help us improve our estimates and category benchmarks by answering the two questions below.



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