This year, retailers plagued by supply chain snafus and inventory out-of-stock warnings, lost their web traffic to Amazon.com. The marketplace giant grabbed a larger share of Cyber 5 website traffic from Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000.

Consumers grew comfortable shopping with the reliable and endless aisle appeal of Amazon.com during the pandemic in 2020—and that behavior seems to have carried through into the 2021 Cyber 5 shopping weekend. Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, increased its hold on website traffic compared with the rest of Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 during the Cyber 5 shopping weekend.

Amazon’s share of the Top 1000 website visits on Thanksgiving increased to 23.9% in 2021 compared to a 22.1% share of traffic in 2020. On Black Friday, Amazon’s share of web traffic increased to 22.3% compared with 20.8% year over year. On Saturday, Amazon’s share increased 25.0% compared with 23.9% year over year, Sunday increased to 25.6% compared with 24.5% year over year, and on Cyber Monday reached 25.3% compared with 23.8% year over year.

 

During the pandemic lockdown in 2020, consumers came to rely on Amazon’s prompt delivery and competitive discounts offered well before the pandemic, says Alex Ai, director of marketing services at Oceanwing, a subsidiary of Anker Innovations, and a market analytics vendor for marketplace sellers advertising on Amazon.

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“We think the primary factor driving an uptick in sales is that more consumers became comfortable with making many of their purchasing decisions through Amazon during the pandemic,” Ai says. The company provides market analytics for retail brands and is  the world’s largest seller on Amazon.com.

While other retailers are offering faster shipping policies and better promotions in order to compete with Amazon, it’s hard to convince customers to make a switch from a retailer they trust, adds Ai.

 

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Black Friday website traffic surpasses Cyber Monday

During the period of Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, consumers spent $33.90 billion online overall, falling just short of the record $34.36 billion in 2020, according to data from Adobe Analytics. The 1.4% decline is due in part by earlier holiday shopping and concerns about inventory shortages.

Adobe’s analysis is based on more than 1 trillion visits to more than 4,500 U.S. retail sites and covers 100 million SKUs in 18 product categories. The firm measures transactions from 80 of the top 100 online retailers ranked in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.

Black Friday traffic outpaced Cyber Monday across the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 with 562.4 million website visits, according to Digital Commerce 360 analysis of Similarweb data.

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Even though more consumers shopped in-store during the Cyber 5 compared with last year, consumers are still flocking to the web, says David Belson, senior director of data insights at Fastly Inc., a cloud computing services provider.

“But a lot of traffic is still being driven by perceived deals that they’ll get online and the perceived convenience of shopping online,” Belson says. “You don’t need to find a parking spot, you can do all your shopping online effectively and drive over, pull up, pick it up and bring it back home.”

Most categories drop in visits across Top 1000 during Cyber 5

During the Cyber 5 weekend, most categories dropped in website visits across the Top 1000 compared with the 2020 Cyber 5. This is likely because consumers shopped earlier in November, as retailers offered deals early in the month, coupled with supply chain and inventory shortage concerns, says Udayan Bose, CEO of digital marketing agency NetElixir. “Shoppers didn’t want to miss out on products they really wanted to purchase for the holidays,” Bose says.

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Notably, the consumer electronics category decreased by 73.86 million site visits for the total Top 1000 during the Cyber 5 compared with last year. Mass merchant visits also decreased by 91.05 million visits. Only health/beauty (7.99 million visits), and food and beverage (0.22 million visits) experienced an increase in website visits during the 2021 Cyber 5 compared with last year.

Overall, shoppers have become more patient in their shopping, Bose says.

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“NetElixir found that shoppers are visiting websites more times before buying, they’re doing research,” Bose says, based on NetElixir data that analyzed hourly data from midnight on Thanksgiving through the end of Cyber Monday for 75 enterprise, mid-sized and small business customers from approximately 70 million website sessions.

Ad costs make it difficult for brands to get noticed

It is tough for smaller retailers in particular to compete with Amazon as CPM (cost per thousand impressions on a web page) costs continue to increase, says Calla Murphy, senior director at Belardi Wong, a digital marketing company that works with more than 300 direct-to-consumer brands.

Site traffic declined 3% year over year during the Cyber 5 for Belardi’s clients. “The ability for brands and especially smaller brands who have to compete with larger brands and larger promotions is challenging,” Murphy says. “It was overall really challenging to drive site traffic during the Cyber 5 this year compared to last year.”

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Rising media and ad costs across web search and social media made it difficult for brands to attract consumer attention, Murphy says.

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