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The 2013 five-day cyber holiday shopping sale from Black Friday through Cyber Monday drove the highest sales totals in U.S. history. This year’s sales surged over 20% and mobile traffic increased by 45% compared with 2012 revenues, according to data from IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub, which tracked data from over 800 U.S retailers in real-time.

Apple, Amazon, Best Buy and Wal-Mart were the big winners. Apple especially has reason to be pleased: IBM’s Digital Analytics statistics indicated that Apple iOS devices rang up 450% more online commerce than rival Android devices and Apple customers outspent their Android counterparts by over $13 on individual sales as well.

Additionally, IBM’s cloud-based analytics findings indicated that U.S. shoppers made Cyber Monday the biggest single online shopping day in history with a nearly 21% increase in online sales. Mobile sales exceeded 17% of all online sales, representing an increase of 55% year-over-year, according to IBM Digital Analytics statistics. And the average online order was $128.77.

Retail analysts got a bit of a shock when this year’s Cyber Monday online sales outpaced Black Friday sales by a solid 31.5 %. However, the consumers who shopped on Black Friday spent an average five percent more on each order — $135.27 versus those who spent $128.77 on Cyber Monday purchases.

The National Retail Federation in Washington, D.C. said that total spending for the four-day weekend from Thanksgiving through Sunday declined by 2.3% to $57.4 billion compared to 2012. Americans spent an average of $407.02 per person over the 2013 holiday weekend compared to a year ago, according to the NRF figures. The big news though, was that Cyber Monday online sales outpaced Black Friday shopping revenues. Data firm ComScore estimated that Cyber Monday Ecommerce spending accounted for $1.8 billion in sales, which included $200 million in mobile sales. Another report from ShopperTrak showed that the combined total of this year’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales (including online and in-store) accounted for $12.3 billion, a 2.3% increase over 2012 revenues.

Among the other Cyber holiday weekend shopping statistics released by IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark hub:

Cyber Monday 2013 Compared to Cyber Monday 2012:

  • Mobile Traffic Ramps Up: Mobile traffic comprised nearly one-third or 32% of all online traffic. This is a sharp increase of 45% compared with those who used mobile devices to shop online in 2012.
  • Smart phones Browse, Tablets Buy: Smart phones drove 19.7% of all online traffic compared to tablets at 11.5%, making it the browsing device of choice. When it comes to making the sale, tablets drove 11.7 % of all online sales, more than double that of smart phones, which accounted for 5.5 %. On average, tablet users spent $126.30 per order compared to smart phone users who spent $106.49.
  • Apple tops Android iOS vs. Android: On average, iOS users spent $120.29 per order, compared to $106.70 per order for Android. iOS traffic reached 22.4 % of all online traffic, compared to 9.1 % for Android. In addition, iOS sales reached 14.5 % of all online sales, compared to 2.6 % for Android.
  • Big Apple Biggest Cyber Shopping Center: New York took the top spot for total online retail sales on Cyber Monday, followed by Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.
  • Retailers “Push” Promotions to Mobile Shoppers*: On average, retailers sent 77 % more push notifications during the five day holiday shopping period – the alert messages and popup notifications from apps installed on your mobile device – when compared to daily averages over the past two months. Average daily retail application installations also increased by 29 % using the same comparison.
  • Facebook Shoppers Spend More than Pinterest Shoppers. On average, holiday shoppers referred from Facebook spent six percent more per order than shoppers referred from Pinterest. Facebook average order value was $97.81 versus the Pinterest average order value which was $92.40. Facebook referrals also converted sales at a rate 38 % higher than Pinterest.

Although high technology and electronic goods dominated the five-day holiday weekend sales, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub also tracked and reported real-time trends and statistics among the other top retail market segments. They include:

  • Department Stores: Cyber Monday total online sales grew by 70.3% percent over 2012. Mobile sales rose 52% percent year over year and the average order value was $161.83 an increase of 18.7% from 2012.
  • Health and Beauty: Cyber Monday total online sales grew by 65.1% over 2012, with mobile sales increasing 84% YoY; average order value was $60.22, an increase of 6.8% YoY.
  • Home Goods: Cyber Monday total online sales grew by 26.5% percent over 2012, with mobile sales growing 40.5% from 2012. The average order value increased by 9.2% to $182.19.
  • Apparel: Cyber Monday total online sales grew by 22.5% over 2012, with mobile sales growing by 58.3% YoY. The average order value was $102.83, a decrease of 6.9% from 2012.

Cyber Monday 2013 Versus Black Friday 2013:

  • Mobile Sales and Traffic: Mobile sales and traffic decreased between Black Friday and Cyber Monday as shoppers went back to work and school. Cyber Monday mobile sales were down 21 %, and mobile traffic down 20 %, from Black Friday.
  • Shopping Cart Conversion Rate: In order to lock in the best deals, shoppers actually purchased the items they added to their online shopping carts at a 12.6% higher rate on Cyber Monday than Black Friday.

Analysis

While cyber sales were spectacular, some of the so-called Big Box or “brick and mortar” chain stores also had a record breaking five-day holiday weekend. They realize they must adapt to the new retail reality or risk extinction.

Large chain stores are not without their own arsenal of weapons in the ongoing shopping wars. They can elect to match and even beat the prices of their online cyber competitors. And they also have the advantage of providing customers – some of whom actually revel in the thrill of the actual shopping experience – with instant gratification, buying the product and taking it home with them instead of having to wait for it to arrive. The retail stores are also responding to the cyber competition with more aggressive strategies of their own.

Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart all opened their doors on Thanksgiving night, a move which paid off. High technology devices like the latest gaming stations – Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One along with flat screen TVs and tablet devices flew off the shelves and helped lift the aforementioned retailers to record sales. Wal-Mart sold 1.4 million tablets on Thanksgiving Day alone, according to statistics from the Consumer Electronics Association. While Target and Wal-Mart have historically been good performers, Best Buy’s turnaround is the real surprise of the holiday season. A year ago, the electronics retailer was in trouble, closing stores and downsizing.

InfoScout, a San Francisco-based retail data analytics firm said that Apple iPads were the top selling devices at Wal-Mart and Target stores on Black Friday. To get its statistics, InfoScout, said tracked spending of 50,000 in-store shoppers, aged 21 through 55, on Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday. In contrast to Apple which declined to discount products at its own Apple stores (opting instead to give customers gift cards good towards future purchases), Target and Wal-Mart both had significant deals. Target gave customers $100 gift cards with every iPad purchase and the retailer also cut $20 off the $499 list tag of an iPad Air, selling it for $479.

One intriguing bit of information uncovered by InfoScout was the surprisingly strong sales of Microsoft’s Surface 32GB tablet. According to InfoScout, the Microsoft Surface 32GB tablet was the top seller at Best Buy on Thanksgiving night, followed by Apple’s iPad 2.

Wall Street Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said that the Apple iPad and iPhone are on track to be among the top gifts of 2013. The big question though is whether or not the discounts offered by retailers will undercut the foot traffic or online traffic at Apple’s own stores/sites.

Conclusions

The record breaking numbers over the five-day Black Friday to Cyber Monday holiday weekend guarantee that cyber sales events will continue to be a mainstay of the holiday shopping season. But if 2013 is any indication, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will no longer bracket a five-day cyber-shopping spree. They will also augur in a new expanded era of cyber events that will most likely extend well beyond the traditional five days following Thanksgiving. Going forward, Cyber holiday sales events will almost certainly encompass the entire month of December and extend in well into January to help spur sales in that traditionally sluggish sales period.

It’s hard to believe that Cyber Monday is only eight years old. It was started in 2005 by Shop.org, as part of the National Retail Federation. Since then, IBM’s Digital Analytic Benchmark Hub has become the most accurate and oft-quoted barometer of cyber sales, during this pivotal five-day period that starts the traditional run-up to the end of the year.

The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark has become increasingly more sophisticated. It reports trends in real-time and breaks out online sales, mobile traffic and average order value according to specific retail market segments including: department stores, health and beauty, home goods and apparel. Expect IBM and all of the major vendors including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce.com and others to expand and refine their use of big data analytics to drive online and retail commerce.

These vendors are increasingly utilizing advanced big data to their advantage to perform very detailed predictive analytics to track customer trends and buying patterns in order to launch extremely focused, targeted sales and marketing campaigns according to specific demographics and geographic locales.

That trend is already in full swing. Last week Apple spent $200 million to purchase Topsy Labs, a social media analytics firm. It’s a move that will enable Apple to utilize big data analytics to track and predict the buying patterns of its iPhone, iPad and Siri personal assistant users. A spate of other acquisitions and investments in analytic firms will almost certainly follow in 2014 and beyond.

To access full reports and real-time updates on holiday shopping trends from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, go to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub at: www.ibm.com/benchmark.

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