It may have begun as a gimmick a few years ago, but Cyber Monday has developed into a bona fide retailing phenomenon.
Online retailers reported heavy traffic on their Web sites Monday, driven by a wide range of special deals including one-day-only free shipping, Web-only discounts and promotional gifts. The end result is that many consumers let their computer mice do the shopping Monday.
“If there was any doubt before, this year it is certain: Cyber Monday is a permanent fixture on the retail calendar,” says Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, an association for online retailers.
Traffic on CyberMonday.com, a Web site hosted by Shop.org for consumers looking for Cyber Monday discounts, was up more than 300 percent over the same day in 2006. Unique visitors to the site had surpassed the 1 million mark by midday, Silverman says.
Individual online retailers were reporting similar gains in traffic. Ice.com, an online jewelry retailer, reported sales were up 82 percent over the same day last year, and traffic was up 70 percent. The average value of a sale was also up 15 percent. Ebags.com, a retailer specializing in handbags and luggage, also reported a 50 percent traffic gain.
“I think we’re seeing the results of a few trends here,” says Silverman. “First, there’s a higher awareness among consumers that online retailers are offering a variety of promotions on Cyber Monday and that is driving traffic to the sites.” In fact, a survey by Shop.org showed that 75 percent of online retailers were planning promotions to capitalize on the event. “Second, consumers are concerned about the economy and the Internet is seen as a place to get bargains. Third is the overall convenience factor. People who have shopped online in the past appreciate how convenient an experience it is.”
While the idea of Cyber Monday is taking root, some retailers are stretching the concept further. Wal-Mart announced Monday it will offer online-only specials throughout the week, branding the sale Cyber Week. Walmart.com planned to offer deals on about 65 items Monday, then roll out more sale items through the week.
Ravi Jariwala, a spokesman for Walmart.com, says last year the retailer’s site had more than 5.5 million visits on Cyber Monday. Based on early traffic figures, the retailer was expecting about 7 million hits for Cyber Monday 2007.
“This week alone, Walmart.com expects nearly 30 million visits,” Jariwala adds. “Our sales growth is outpacing that of our traffic growth. Walmart.com’s goal is to grow sales at two to three times the industry growth rate, and our sales from this weekend were at the high end of this range.”