Cyber Monday may not have been the start of seasonal sales for the nation’s biggest retailers, but disruptive digital brands that traditionally shy away from discounting added new offers for the shopping holiday this year.
Of the 77 digitally native vertical brands, or DNVBs, in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, 71.4% were offering some kind of discount on Cyber Monday, according to research by Digital Commerce 360. That’s up from 69.9% of DNVBs that offered a Cyber Monday discount last year. But, DNVB’s are still less likely to offer a Cyber Monday discount than top online retailers, as 88.0% of the Top 50 offered a Cyber Monday promotion in 2020, according to Digital Commerce 360 editors.
Historically, digital natives have touted products as year-round deals because they claim to cut out the middleman between brand and consumer. However, as retailers age and growth slows, many merchants often turn to discounting to attract new customers and continue growing sales.
Unlike many other top online retailers, many of the DNVB Cyber Monday deals were not available last week. Only 48.1% of DNVBs had a holiday-related promotion going on the prior Monday, Nov. 23, compared with 78.0% of Top 50 retailers.
Of the DNVBs who offered Cyber Monday deals, 20 of them stuck to a true Cyber 5 schedule of releasing deals after Thanksgiving.
Digital natives with stores were less likely to offer online discounts on Cyber Monday. 65.5% of DNVBs that now operate stores offered an online Cyber Monday deal, while 78.7% of online-only DNVBs discounted merchandise.
“Clearly, cash flow is under a lot of pressure for those with stores and less so for [online-only retailers],” said Eric Roth, managing director at MidOcean Partners. “The ecommerce guys may well be making a play to take market share.”
Digital natives also offered smaller discounts on average, with a median 30% discount touted prominently for the shopping holiday for the 36 retailers offering a percentage off rather than a dollar total. Top 50 retailers’ median percentage discount was 50% for the 32 retailers with one major discount figure advertised.
Digital natives may not have all offered savings, but many still recognized the holiday. Shoe brand Allbirds (No. 337) went in the other direction, charging a dollar more on Black Friday, which it donated to “Mother Nature” but didn’t specify exactly where the money would be donated. Last year, Allbirds didn’t offer any discounts and only noted the holiday in pictures with a “Make your mistletoes merry” tagline on its homepage. Allbirds did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Luggage brand Away (No. 273) traditionally doesn’t offer discounts, but it advertised savings this year during Cyber Monday. Shoppers could receive $125 off holiday luggage sets, with combos like a backpack and duffle bag or a rolling suitcase and packing cubes. Last year, Away told Digital Commerce 360 that its direct-to-consumer model let it offer great prices year-round, precluding it from ever offering sales. Away did not respond to a request for comment by press time this year.
Apparel brand Everlane (No. 259) switched from an innovative “Choose what you pay” Cyber Monday deal to a more traditional percentage off structure this year. Previously, shoppers could choose a price and see what the cost would cover (including things like labor, design and shipping), but this year a banner leads to a page listing items discounted “today only.” Everlane did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
DNVBs offered plenty of more traditional sales as well. Beauty brand Lime Crime (No. 907) offered 30% off sitewide plus extra discounts on certain collections. It also had quick links to groups of products under certain dollar amounts. While it did have holiday language, like “Cyber Week” and “Holiday Collection,” it didn’t have more traditional holiday themes like photography or color schemes. Mattress brand Casper Sleep Inc. (No. 145) had a snowy background to its deals splash screen, recognizing the holiday spirit.
Overall, DNVBs’ holiday spirit was more limited to text on the website than Top 50 retailers like Kohl’s Corp. (No. 21) or The Home Depot Inc. (No. 5), which had holiday imagery throughout the site and gift guides.