Blog - Virid: People-Powered eCommerce

That's a Wrap: What Retailers Can Learn from Cyber Weekend 2018

Cyber Weekend is over, and it was the biggest shopping weekend we've seen yet. According to Adobe Analytics, consumers spent $6.22 billion online on Black Friday, up 23.6% from 2017. And on Cyber Monday, spending hit a record $7.9 billion, making it the biggest online shopping day of all time in the US.

But, if J.Crew's and lululemon's site mishaps were any indication, not every retailer was a winner this holiday weekend. So, for the retailers who did it right, what was their secret to success? And for those that flopped, what was their downfall? We've put together the biggest lessons learned from this past cyber weekend to help guide your eCommerce strategy:

Cyber Weekend lasts more than a weekend.

For most retailers, holiday preparation starts in July, and the holiday shopping season starts early November and sometimes lasts through January. Consumers love the holiday season, of course they want it to last as long as possible! But, that also means retailers shouldn't plan for just one massive holiday weekend, but for an entire season. Additionally, after the holidays are over, you can also expect an influx of returns–both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Altogether, this makes for a busy retail season that lasts far longer than one weekend.

When it comes to the holidays in eCommerce, remember the words of Ben Franklin–"Failing to plan is planning to fail." And the sooner you start preparing for the holiday rush, the better. So, exactly how should you be preparing in the future? Check out our Ultimate eCommerce Holiday Checklist. It's packed with tips to prepare you for the rest of this holiday season and to boost your eCommerce strategy well into the new year.

Mobile is here to stay.

We've been shouting this from the rooftops for quite some time now, but until every retailer has fully adopted a mobile-first approach when it comes to their eCommerce site, we'll continue to shout. This year on Black Friday, mobile orders overtook desktop for the first time. And, Adobe Analytics found that over a third of online purchases on Black Friday were made on smartphones, totaling $2.1 billion. This was a 50% increase from the old record of $1.4 billion set on Cyber Monday 2017. Mobile cannot be an afterthought for retailers looking to succeed in the crowded online market. And with nearly 200 million mobile shoppers in the US, a mobile responsive site should not be just a holiday-specific goal, but a year-round priority.

So how do you adapt your site to meet customers where they are? We've put together a guide with 3 ways to put mobile first, but remember that creating a mobile-optimized site is not an overnight process. Implementing a mobile-first philosophy requires buy-in across the entire company, and it poses technical challenges that many eCommerce platforms and implementers aren't equipped to handle. Virid has successfully launched mobile responsive sites for all of our clients, and they have all seen major upticks in mobile traffic and sales. If your site is in need of a mobile makeover, schedule a free tech consultation with our team of experts today.

User-generated content can be a data goldmine.

In the months leading up to any holiday promotions, you should be actively engaging with consumers on social media. We know, 'Duh...'. But remember, social media is about more than just posting a message about your upcoming saleYes, consistently posting on social is incredibly important for site conversions, but social media can also be a major source of consumer insights. A new trend seen this past Cyber Weekend was an increase in site traffic driven from social. If used correctly, this can play a big role in your holiday strategy. 

Pay close attention to what customers are saying on social, whether it's through your tagged posts or direct messages. Often, social listening can provide early indicators of issues with your site or products, allowing you to prepare before the holiday rush begins. Other great sources of consumer insights driven by UGC? Customer reviews and Q&A. If you don't have a ratings and reviews platform like Revere, which provides actionable insights from UGC in the form of AI-powered reports, you are missing out on valuable data that can increase conversions on your eCommerce site.

Consumer expectations are changing quickly.

A user-friendly mobile site, free shipping on all orders, pages that load in less than 3 seconds, and a quick and easy return policy are a few of the things shoppers have come to expect from their favorite brands. The Amazon effect has only increased consumer expectations over the years, and offerings like 'Buy Online Pick Up in Store' and 'Shop by Store' have spoiled us as consumers. In fact, on Black Friday Adobe reported that BOPIS sales were up 50% over last year. Retail may not be dead, but it is changing quickly, and digital transformation will continue to shift consumer expectations. The end of the year is the time to evaluate if your business is really agile enough to change with the industry.

Your tech partners matter.

Lowe's, Walmart, J. Crew, lululemon, Ulta–just a few of the major retailers who experienced site crashes and sales glitches over the weekend. A slow eCommerce site any time of the year is a problem for retailers, but a crashing site on the biggest shopping weekend of the year? That can do a lot of damage. In fact, experts predict J. Crew's Cyber Weekend site issues, which lasted about five hours, could cost the company over $700,000 in sales. In addition to the lost sales, the overall impact of an outage can harm a brand's reputation and decrease customer loyalty long after the holiday season is over.

Your eCommerce tech stack is a complicated ecosystem–if each part is not functioning optimally, it could be costing you sales. If your Cyber Weekend site performance was not what you wanted it to be, schedule a free tech consultation with our team of eCommerce experts- we're here to help you grow your business.

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So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about this past Cyber Weekend. Because the holiday season is far from over, make sure you're subscribed to the Virid newsletter, for all the latest eCommerce insights. And be sure to follow Team Virid on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook!

Topics: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Weekend, General

Written by Rachel Hobble