Target Cyber Monday!The biggest part of the holiday shopping season is fast approaching – or is it? When is Cyber Monday? Is it really the Monday after Black Friday? Countless articles online seems to indicate that Black Friday through Cyber Monday is where you will make or break your Xmas season. That’s not really the case – or at least it’s not in my experience.
It’s more accurate to say that Thanksgiving weekend is when brick and mortar stores start their real holiday push, and those of us online react by mimicing them. Maybe Cyber Monday isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Is Thanksgiving weekend really the “bulge” in your quarterly sales reports or is it a self-fulfilling prophecy?
In other words, is it a manufactured event, like Valentines Day, or is it really the most important part of the Christmas shopping season for online retailers? My experience over the last 15 years online suggests the former. Let’s take a look at some actual data:
Well, that’s illuminating isn’t it? Now we have a more accurate picture of what Black Friday and Cyber Monday actually are: Merely the beginning. Now I’ve used 2010 here, but if I go back and compare different years, this pattern is constant.
I see a small bump in the first two weeks of November – I call this the early bird bump. Then Thanksgiving week, things start to ramp up to a high on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Orders remain steady more or less the next ten days to two weeks. Then the country collectively goes “Oh crap, I still haven’t got anything for Mother” and they get their orders in so they can make sure they’ll arrive in time for Xmas.
Given the above, is Cyber Monday really anything more than the bell signaling the beginning of the fight? Actually yes, it has become a valuable tool for us.
What Cyber Monday really does is give me an accurate forecast of my Christmas season. Without fail, I can look at my sales over Thanksgiving weekend and the following Monday and predict the rest of my Christmas rush. It has been so accurate for so many years, that I can use it to adjust stock levels by cutting prices or postponing product deliveries.
I used this tool in 2008 to prevent overstocking and it saved me a ton of headaches in early 2009. Holding tens of thousands of dollars worth of stock that won’t move is no fun.
Later this week we’ll take a look at how to prepare for your own Xmas rush, using past data to get a spot-on forecast for Christmas sales, and I’ll hook you up with a best practices guide from an e-commerce giant.