Discounting for Cyber 5 began earlier than ever this year, but Cyber Monday still reigns supreme for online promotions and sales.
88% of the top 50 online retailers that Digital Commerce 360 ranks in its Top 1000 offered Cyber Monday deals, according to site visits by Digital Commerce 360 editors. Only six merchants in the top 50 were not offering Cyber Monday deals. However, most of those retailers are business-to-business-focused merchants such as MSC Industrial Supply Co. Inc. (No. 32 in the Top 1000), W.W. Grainger Inc. (No. 11) and CDW Corp. (No. 17).
Early discounting also was rampant among many online retailers, of the top 50 online retailers, 78% of them offered a “Black Friday” deal on Monday, Nov. 23, four days before Black Friday, according to a check by Digital Commerce 360 editors. Only 11 of the top 50 merchants were not offering a Black Friday deal on Nov. 23.
“With more Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping happening online, shoppers were ready to comparison-shop and started looking for deals early,” says Rigel Cable, director, analytics and SEO, Astound Commerce. “This meant that retailers were competing for these early sales.”
Widespread promotions helped drive online sales on Cyber Monday to grow 15.1% over last year’s Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics. Adobe’s data is based on transactions from more than 1 trillion anonymous online visits to retail sites, including 80 of the top 100 retailers in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.
“Cyber Monday continued to dominate the holiday shopping season, becoming the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, despite early discounts from retailers,” says Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights.
Many retailers specifically called out Cyber Monday, while others emphasized their continued sales events. But only a few retailers changed their type of promotions from the previous week: Winter wear retailer The North Face (owned by VF Corp., No. 44) increased its promotions to 50% off merchandise on Cyber Monday from 30% off on Nov. 23. Neiman Marcus (No. 40) changed its promotion from $50 off $200 to up to 75% off products. Pet food retailer Chewy Inc. (owned by PetSmart Inc., No. 17) upped its discount from 10-25% off to up to 50% off products.
“Most retailers are aware that the shopper is savvy and offering discounts throughout the year. It’s more about timing on the part of the shopper,” says Lauren Freedman, consumer insights analyst at Digital Commerce 360. “When they get there, they want the sharpest deal to be present no matter if it’s ahead of the holiday weekend or during.”
The top 50 retailers’ median percentage discount was 50% for the 32 retailers with one major discount figure advertised, according to Digital Commerce 360 site visits.
Beyond the top 50, the average discount rate for U.S. merchants on Salesforce Inc.’s ecommerce platform started at 28% on Thanksgiving in the U.S. and grew modestly throughout the Cyber 5 weekend to an average of 29% on Cyber Monday, according to data from Salesforce. The software provider aggregates data from the activity of more than 1 billion global shoppers flowing through its Commerce Cloud platform and extrapolates its clients’ findings to the broader retail industry.
Breaking the deals down more specifically, computers were marked down by 28%, with electronics a close second at 27%, according to Adobe data. Appliances and sporting goods were both discounted by 20%, and toys were 19% off. Discounts will likely weaken by around 5%-10% across most categories in the weeks before Christmas, Adobe says.
Coupon site RetailMeNot found similar discounting for the online and in-store promotions of its database of offers: The average discount ahead of Cyber 5 was 22% off. Thanksgiving’s average discounts were 22%, which was slightly higher than last year’s 21.5%. Black Friday also averaged 22% off for discounts, and Cyber Monday’s average discount was 23%. Plus, almost 30% of Cyber Monday offers extended into Tuesday and some will extend into Wednesday, RetailMeNot says.
“It probably doesn’t matter that discounts were about the same for Black Friday and Cyber Monday because, ultimately, retailers have trained the shopper to know the deals for their favorite retailers and the role of the holidays may become less significant,” Freedman says.
Here are a few examples from our site visits:
Too soon for shipping cutoff incentives?
While merchants typically try to get consumers to shop early for the holiday season, the urgency is more real this year, when many retailers are struggling to fulfill online orders in a timely way. The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent online shopping boom have pushed online retailers’ and shipping carriers’ operations to the brink.
Only a few online retailers were pushing shipping cutoff dates to encourage earlier buying. Video games retailer GameStop Corp. (No. 34) on its homepage had a link note from its CEO “regarding holiday shipping.”
CEO George Sherman wrote that “online shopping and shipping volumes are expected to be at an all-time high. As a result, we anticipate the holiday-shipping cut-off date to be earlier this year due to the heavy volumes. Just like you, we know how important it is to receive online holiday gift purchases on-time. To help you avoid any delays in receiving your purchases, we encourage you to shop GameStop early this year to ensure that the video games, home entertainment and pop culture merchandise you purchase arrives on time.”
The retailer then details a few methods to provide a more “stress-free” holiday shopping experience: omnichannel options such as [email protected], buy online pick up in store and same-day delivery; coordinating with FedEx to keep a close watch on its daily holiday shipping volumes; and providing the most accurate delivery times. GameStop is also temporarily discontinuing its expedited shipping option because of the heavy volume of orders.
While GameStop is encouraging consumers to shop early because shipping carriers are overwhelmed, only nine retailers in the top 50 mentioned cutoff times for delivery in time for Christmas. For example:
- The North Face says shoppers should order by Dec. 14.
- Department store retailer Neiman Marcus tells shoppers to order by Dec. 9.
- Candle retailer Yankee Candle’s cutoff date is Dec. 18.
- Apparel retailer American Eagle’s order cutoff date is Dec. 12.
- Apparel retailer J. Crew says its shipping cutoff date is “Coming Soon.”