Our Annual Cyber Monday Statistics & Predictions for 2020

It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again where we start to look forward to the holiday season. Selling online has plenty of advantages, but many e-tailers feel the pain of the “summer slump” when sales are slow due to nice weather, vacations and other reasons that get shoppers outside and away from their devices.

As seasoned sellers know, there is plenty of time to bounce back in Q4—some bring in most of the year’s revenue during the last three months of the year. This means summer should be spent preparing for the months ahead, including getting an idea of what’s to come.

Cyber Monday falls on November 30th this year, so it will be a shortened holiday shopping season just like it was in 2019. The trends we saw from 2019’s Cyber Monday and Black Friday will likely continue, but 2020 is full of surprises. Consider this your guide to this year’s biggest online shopping event full of statistics on Cyber Monday, need-to-know data and predictions.

Read on to learn more.

Cyber Monday’s History

Per Business Dictionary, Cyber Monday “refers to the first Monday following the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and is considered a prime shopping day for online shoppers and retailers. Following Black Friday, retailers offer a number of specials that are only available to online shoppers.” Put simply, Cyber Monday is ecommerce’s answer to Black Friday, but what is its origin story?

In the early 2000s, the National Retail Federation noticed a trend: Ecommerce traffic and revenue was spiking year after year specifically on the Monday following Black Friday. The organization hypothesized that consumers were taking advantage of being back at work with faster Internet and fewer children trying to see which gifts they’d be receiving during the holidays. “Black Monday” and “Blue Monday” were both suggested as terms, the former to match Black Friday and the latter to reference blue hyperlinks, but neither one stuck.

It was Ellen Davis, NRF senior vice president of research and strategic initiatives, who coined “Cyber Monday” in 2005 and sent out a press release about it just before Thanksgiving of that year. In response to the publicity, online sales rose 26% year-over-year. It was certainly a popular day to shop online, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype of “The Biggest Online Shopping Day of the Year” until 2014. Cyber Monday that year saw $2 billion in sales, and it has only grown since then.

Looking Back to Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2019

We predicted in our 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday guide that the 2019 event would shatter records, and we were absolutely correct. Each year has blown the previous one out of the water, and 2020 will be no different. For now, however, let’s slow down and take a closer look at last year’s shopping holiday—which was only seven months ago, even though it feels like it’s been far longer.

For starters, shoppers spent a whopping $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday 2019, which outpaced even the $7.4 billion that was spent on Black Friday just days before. This is a 15% increase from total spend the year before, bringing up Cyber Week’s total revenue growth share to 18% year-over-year. Nearly one-third (31%) of customers cited Cyber Monday as their top discount day, which is what compelled them to spend more.

As far as what they were buying, it only takes looking at Amazon reports to get a decent idea. Amazon is by far the largest online retailer, outstripping the competition every single time. The ecommerce behemoth did not disclose numbers, but they did report that Cyber Monday 2019 was the company’s biggest shopping day in history with customers buying “millions” of Amazon-branded devices and “hundreds of millions” of other items available in the marketplace.

Their data matches what Adobe Analytics reported as the most popular items last year. L.O.L. Surprise dolls and Frozen 2 toys top the list, coinciding with the November film release. Consumer technology took the other top five spots for Cyber Monday shopping: Nintendo Switch, VR devices and Samsung TVs. 2020 will see plenty of deals on devices, as is true every year, but e-tailers should be prepared for some surprise products that sell big.

Is Your Store Ready for This Year?

As summer is now in full swing, most e-tailers are looking ahead to the fall and, even more so, to the holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday act as the “official” weekend kick-off event, and it sees at least 108 million consumers shopping online throughout.

The largest online retailers spend months (or even the whole year) preparing for Cyber Monday because of the insane rush of web traffic and total spend they see on this ever-popular shopping holiday, so it’s in your best interest to start your prep work early, too.

Here are five ways to get your online store ready ahead of time:

1. Analyze Your Position and Set Goals: Take an honest look at where your business is right now. Have you optimized your website for maximum conversions? Have you tested its performance, so it runs quickly, reducing your chances of cart abandonment?

What does your social media following look like, and could it be better? There are so many questions to ask yourself to identify areas of improvement, which you can then turn into actionable goals.

2. Offer Discounts That Stand Out: Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers in 2020 aren’t going to be wowed with a 15% discount. Nowadays, 20% is the bare minimum, but conversely, it’s easy to stand out and add value to the customer’s purchase.

E-tailers can offer free gifts with purchase based on different spending thresholds, for example, or include a promo code for 10% off a future purchase in every order (recent promo code statistics have found that using promo codes increases average order value and conversion rates across the board).

Doorbusters are another top performer this time of year and can attract the early waves of shoppers before your competitors get to them first.

3. Improve the Customer Experience: Have you mapped out your customer journey yet? Shoppers interact with multiple brand touchpoints before, during and after making a purchase, and each touchpoint should be a guide that leads to a sale.

Make sure your customer journey aligns with your product offerings so there is a smooth, natural progression from prospect to customer. This will keep them engaged and ultimately leave them more satisfied with their purchases and likely to come back for more.     

4. Speed Up Your Checkout: Streamlined checkout captures customers because they don’t have time to think about what they’re buying. Holiday shoppers are willing to visit dozens of sites to look for the best deal, so if you want to lock them in before they shop with a competitor, you must do it quickly.

Offer guest checkout or social login (“Log In With Facebook” seems to be the most popular) and multiple payment options so shoppers can place their orders with just a few clicks. They’ll be impressed with the efficiency and studies prove that increased checkout speeds improve conversions across the board.

5. Take Advantage of Email: You don’t have to give away any surprises, but some email teasers about your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals can go a long way. Start a few weeks in advance and let your email list know of any doorbusters or extra-appealing deals that will stop them in their tracks. Then, follow-up the night before and again on the day of the events.

You can even send a thankyou email following Cyber Monday, perhaps with a discount code or an exclusive invite to a future flash sale. There are many ways to get consumers engaged before and after the shopping weekend. You just must be tactical with your email marketing strategy to get the engagement and response you’re seeking.

Online Shopping Is More Popular than Ever

Perhaps the biggest trend to arise during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2019 weekend is the prominence of online shopping during this traditionally in-person promotion. It’s no longer a factor of the conversation but rather the centerpiece of it.

The numbers don’t lie. Ecommerce is now bigger than ever, clocking in at an industry total of $3.5 trillion with further projected growth in the years to come. Online shopping helps consumers find the best prices, avoid crowds, save time and so much more, so it’s no surprise it has become so popular that half of consumers prefer it to buying in-store.

This highlights the importance of preparing your online store for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday rush. Even though Cyber Monday is the ecommerce-focused shopping holiday, you can capitalize on the entire weekend by starting your promotions early. Consider this: U.S. shoppers spent more than $5 billion online in the first 24 hours of the BFCM weekend last year. That’s nothing to scoff at.

More statistics from the 2019 weekend are quite telling:

  • 58 million consumers shopped online, compared to 51 million who ventured into a store.
  • 190 million Americans made at least one purchase over the three-day period.
  • Black Friday saw $7.4 billion in online sales.
  • Cyber Monday’s sales totaled $9.4 billion.

Cyber Monday might not get the same marketing push in the retail world as Black Friday does, but it’s a major opportunity for e-tailers all the same. Online shoppers’ wallets are open, so all you must do is get their attention to score big in 2020.

Mobile’s Rise to BFCM Prominence

Another major trend that defined the 2019 Cyber Monday weekend was the popularity of mobile shopping. Shoppers spent more than $3 billion via their mobile phones, proving they’re comfortable with making purchases from their preferred devices and are swayed by the convenience factor.

Also, the numbers show that purchases are being made in-store less often than in the past. Mobile sales increased by 35% for Black Friday. Cyber Monday, being ecommerce focused, still saw a 16% increase in mobile sales. In total, mobile purchases comprised nearly half (49%) of all orders—a trend that’s bound to continue in 2020 as shoppers became more comfortable with buying items online during stay-at-home orders.

Webrooming & Showrooming

Two major ecommerce shopping trends have made their way into the practices and strategy of savvy Cyber Monday shoppers: Webrooming and showrooming.

Showrooming is visiting a brick-and-mortar store to try on, touch, test or otherwise experience a product before leaving to buy it online. On the other hand, Webrooming is showrooming in reverse—all the research is done online, but the final purchase is made in a physical store.

Last year, 88% of shoppers webroomed during the holiday season, while 76% showroomed. Consider that the bulk of holiday shopping begins right after Thanksgiving, and you can easily see how these trends drive a ton of sales over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday present the perfect opportunity for shoppers looking to save. Webroomers can log on and determine which store has the best deal for the product they want and then head to that store on Black Friday to take advantage of those low prices. On the flipside, consumers can use Black Friday to scope out what all is being offered in stores and then bide their time for Cyber Monday to take advantage of the deep discounts.

The #ReturnsHappen Factor

The joke goes that holiday shopping is an equal split between consumers shopping for others and shopping for themselves. Why wouldn’t they? Deals are everywhere, making it fiscally responsible to buy while the price tags are low rather than after the holidays when pricing is back to normal.

However, the one drawback for some of these shoppers is buyer’s remorse. Once the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday have died down, shoppers are left with items they thought they needed or wanted but later realize was not the case. They were simply swept up in the rush and end up returning up to 44% of their orders. For context, the average ecommerce return rate is 33%.

That rate translates to millions of packages. USPS alone carried 1.4 million return parcels last year, and another 4.5 million were carried by UPS and FedEx. We predict that once the 2020 holiday season wraps up, buyer’s remorse will kick in, and 7 million orders (or more) will be returned.

Predictions for Cyber Monday 2020

Technology: If Cyber Monday 2020 is anything like last year’s shopping holiday, the hot commodity will be technology items. Both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X next-generation video game consoles will be available by the time November rolls around, so prices of the older models will surely drop in response. Apple AirPods are in a similar situation with AirPods Pro being the newest version, unseating AirPods Classic. Other data points to a continued popularity of appliances (InstantPot specifically), TVs and laptops.

Flash Deals: Low prices aren’t relegated to certain days anymore. E-tailers can start offering deals any time before, during or after the Cyber Weekend and set time limits on each discount. Shoppers need to be nimble so they can pounce on these deals at the optimal time, whether that’s on Thanksgiving day or in the final hours of Cyber Monday.

Most Wanted Items: As Cyber Monday only gets bigger, more online retailers want to get in on the event. Last year, there was fierce competition between Amazon, Walmart, Target, B&H Photo and Best Buy on items that consumers want to buy. Savvy shoppers will keep a close eye on multiple stores before making a purchase and striking while the iron is hot. Even non-tech sellers are warming up to the idea of discount days, and other categories like beauty and apparel will see price slashes while shoppers’ wallets are already open.

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, and in lieu of the fact that online shopping has increased 500% or more during the past 7 months, with new features like contact-less delivery being made available, expect this year’s Cyber Monday and Black Friday to set new all-time records. The more prepared you are in advance, the likelier it will be that you can cash on this windfall of what’s shaping up to be record-setting sales.

Need even more tips?

Take a look at our related guide: The Ultimate Guide to Cyber Monday & Black Friday

Or glean some facts about Cyber Monday and Black Friday from the infographic below.

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