E-commerce lessons from Black Friday and Cyber Monday

19 December 2014

Only two or three years ago, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were relatively unknown phenomena in the UK. However, in an incredibly short time, these lucrative marketing ploys have spread from the States, along with the sight of desperate shoppers fighting over deeply discounted goods.

British consumers who bypassed the shopping centres and sought their Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains online were less visible, but the figures that have been released are astonishing.

UK Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2014 Online Sales Stats

      • Around £810 million was spent online in the UK on Black Friday and £720 million on Cyber Monday
      • British shoppers placed more than 404,000 online orders on Black Friday this year
      • Online traffic increased by 60% on Black Friday, compared to last year, and by 40% on Cyber Monday
      • Amazon sold approximately 64 items per second on Black Friday Mobile shoppers made up 60% of the UK’s Black Friday web traffic
      • Affiliate Window reported sales numbers rising by a third, when Black Friday and Cyber Monday figures were combined
      • Affiliate Window also reported that the monetary value of sales rose by 22%

Deputy Head of E-Commerce at Schuh, Stuart McMillan, reported that “while we saw YoY conversion increase on all devices, the biggest by far was on mobile, in fact mobile saw over twice the conversion improvement of desktop”.

Many online retailers saw significant increases in traffic on Black Friday this year, compared to the same day in 2013. Google Play traffic was up 259%, eBay by 213% and AO.com by 183%. Others were less successful, however, with Firebox, Hamley’s, Cath Kidston and JJB Sports down 13%, 16%, 19% and 31%, respectively.

Even some of the country’s most high-profile retailers underestimated demand. Argos and John Lewis were two prominent e-commerce stores that suffered downtime on Black Friday, and Tesco and Currys had to implement queuing systems on their websites. Despite John Lewis’s downtime, however, they still saw their biggest day of sales in history.

In terms of a comparison between Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, different e-commerce sectors showed very different results. Fashion sales were 26% higher on Black Friday than Cyber Monday, speciality retail was 21% higher, and consumer electronics sales were 12.3% greater. By contrast, home and garden sales were 16% higher on Cyber Monday, while department stores showed virtually identical results on both days.

Lessons to Learn from Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2014

        • Prepare your website for high traffic
        • Use PPC advertising to draw attention to your offers. AO.com was able to take advantage of Currys and Argos’s downtime thanks to their search advertising
        • Optimise your site for mobile – don’t lose customers who are looking for a streamlined shopping experience
        • Prepare great offers – these shopping days are now firmly established in the British pre-Christmas calendar so there is high competition

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