All posts tagged timing

Cyber Monday Sets New Record

ComScore announced that 2010’s Cyber Monday grew 16% from a year ago, tallying record-breaking online sales of over $1 billion.

While Black Friday is still the shopping event of the bricks-and-mortar world, Cyber Monday — the first Monday after Thanksgiving — has increasingly become a major event for online retailers, who prime the pump with major promotions, sales, email campaigns and advertising blitzes.

“Cyber Monday was a historic day for e-commerce as we saw daily spending surpass $1 billion for the first time,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “The online holiday shopping season has clearly gotten off to a very strong start, which is welcome news. At the same time, it’s important to note that some of the early strength in consumer spending is almost certainly the result of retailers’ heavier-than-normal promotional and discounting activity at this early point in the season. So, while we anticipate that there will be more billion-dollar spending days ahead as we get deeper into the season, only time will tell if overall consumer online spending remains at the elevated levels we’ve seen thus far.”

Of the total 16% gain, comScore attributed most of the lift — 12% — to an increase in average order size. The remaining 4% sales growth was due to an increase in total online shoppers. Source: comScore

2010 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2009
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.

Millions ($)
2009 2010 Percent Change
November 1 – 29 $12,008 $13,553 13%
Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25) $318 $407 28%
Black Friday (Nov. 26) $595 $648 9%
Weekend (Nov. 27-28) $805 $886 10%
Cyber Monday (Nov. 29) $887 $1,028 16%

Timing is Everything

With the kids back in school and the leaves starting to turn, online merchants are obsessing about Holiday readiness. It’s the time of year when we carefully schedule all our email campaigns for the next three all-important months. Merchants are coordinating online and social-media campaigns, catalog drops, and in-store events. Time is of the essence.

But timing isn’t just a Q4 priority. In June I was lucky to speak alongside Steve Elkins, coowner of WEBS on an Internet Retailer panel. Steve spoke convincingly about the importance of being the first on Adwords, all year long, with each season’s product-specific yarns. They’re one of the country’s top sellers of knitting yarns, and it’s crazy long-tail search terms like “Viking of Norway Balder Chunky” (dude, I couldn’t make this stuff up!) which spike with high search volume and excellent conversion the very moment they’re released.

Also on our IR panel was Jeff Pape, owner of, who had another take on timing. specializes in headgear, singlets, shoes and other stuff for high school and college wrestlers. Jeff studied the day-of-week and time-of-day reports for all his sales on Adwords, and found that a large portion of his transactions occur after normal business hours. That’s because many of his customers are kids waiting for after-dinner hour to get Mom and Dad’s permission — and credit card! — to snap up the latest cool custom shoes.

Jeff targeted some of his budget to those off-peak hours. Ironically, many of his rivals have already exhausted their daily spend by that time — so Jeff had the place to himself.

Dinn Brothers in West Springfield, Massacusetts is America’s largest maker of trophies and awards. A multi-generation family business, their focus changes with the sports seasons: In Fall, it’s all about football trophies and soccer trophies. When the season turns, it’s all about the current sports and activities. Even non-sports awards like academic plaques and debating trophies have their day.

Every retailer has her busy season: gardening seed and supply companies, gift companies, apparel retailers. The trick is to plan ahead for season-specific campaigns:

  • Website design and merchandise refreshes. Every site needs a “new” section!
  • SEO pushes: SEO is a slow-acting process, so DON’T take your out-of-season pages offline if you can avoid it! You want these to rank well and be ready ahead of time for seasonal searches when they emerge
  • Paid search campaigns: Don’t get caught with last-year’s bid when this season (and its inevitable click-price inflation) hits