Reflecting on Cyber Monday 2011

Casey BartoThe emails have been sent and shopping carts have been loaded up. This year’s Cyber Monday (and subsequent cyber week) proved highly successful with record-breaking $6 billion in sales, according to comScore.
Nearly 80 percent of e-retailers planned to send customers some kind of Cyber Monday deal, and shoppers must have been hungry to save because retailers racked up $1.25 billion in sales, making this year’s Cyber Monday the biggest online shopping day in history.

This year’s sales figures just squeaked by ComScore’s $1.2 billion sales prediction for the busiest online shopping day.

Plenty of good deals were to be had on the first day back to work from the Thanksgiving holiday with some retailers offering discounts like 50 percent off and free shipping or free gift with purchase. Consumers jumped at the chance to knock some items off their holiday lists, spending 22 percent more over Cyber Monday last year.

But Cyber Monday wasn’t the only day where sales topped $1 billion. Consumers also opened their wallets on Tuesday and Wednesday sending sales for those two days past the $1 billion mark as well. While “Cyber Week” was a bigger hit than in years past, the real test for retailers is whether or not shoppers return to finish their holiday shopping after the days of great deals online have expired.

“As the deals from this week expire, it will be important to see the degree to which consumers return to the same retailers to continue their holiday shopping, thereby helping improve retailers’ profit margins, or if we experience a pullback in consumer spending – which has occurred in previous years – before promotional offers and spending intensity pick back up in earnest around mid-December,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

According to comScore, free shipping was a very import element when considering a cyber week purchase, with more than one-third of consumers saying that they wouldn’t make a purchase without it. Offering free shipping has several benefits for retailers – especially when it comes to boosting online spending activity. It’s a careful balance between “free” while remaining profitable, but based on consumer feedback, it could offer a competitive advantage during what’s shaping up to be a happier holiday season.

Did you make an online purchase during cyber week? If so, did free shipping play a role?

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