Less than two months ago, American e-commerce experienced its biggest online shopping day to date: Cyber Monday. In fact, US online shoppers broke one sales record after the other in the days leading up to it — the Cyber5. Many e-retailers had high hopes that this momentum would stay strong well into the year-end Holiday 2013 season, and coast right on into the new year with high sales numbers. Though the reports are still a little early (most Holiday Season sales assessments are released in mid-January), 2Checkout is here to compare the Holiday 2013 shopping season to the numbers of holidays past.
Of note in 2013, shoppers were left with a shorter shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. On the flip side, the longer days before Thanksgiving could have contributed to the e-commerce spike of the Cyber5. Yet, entering into the three weeks following the Cyber5, online sales numbers stayed strong, but did not surpass or meet predictions as Christmas Day drew nearer. The UK? That was a different story, and the great country across the pond can now call Boxing Day its most successful online shopping day in history.
Christmas in the US
The US Now Shops Online ON Christmas: E-commerce increased 16.5 percent from Christmas Day 2012. M-commerce (mobile devices) was responsible for the rise in dollars spent. Nearly half of all purchases were made from a mobile device, reports IBM. Here, the browse vs. buy element came into play. When browsing, shoppers preferred to use their smartphones (28.5 percent) over tablets (18.1 percent). However, when it came to POS, tablet devices won out at 19.4 percent, almost double that of smartphones. In the battle between Android and iOS, Apple owners spent, on average, $93.94 per order, while Android users spent an average $48.10, and drove five times more online sales on Christmas Day.
Facebook Drives Traffic: Somewhat surprisingly, Facebook won the social media influencer battle, with Pinterest playing second fiddle. Pinterest did earn a higher average sale of $86.83 against Facebook’s $72.01 (IBM), yet, driving traffic and converting sales is gaining greater importance. Facebook converted online sales faster than any other network, four times faster than Pinterest.
UPS and FedEx Failed to Deliver: No one could have predicted the 54 percent increase in “last minute rush” orders that occurred this holiday season. UPS told Forbes that “the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity in our network.” Both companies are chalking it up to poor strategic planning (54 percent was not predictable), but this means that some dissatisfied e-retailers will start to depend on regional carriers to address the needs of their customers in 2014.
The UK Enjoyed the Biggest Online Shopping Day…Ever: Research provided by Postcode Anywhere suggests that the UK enjoyed its biggest online shopping day to date on Boxing Day, December 26, 2013. The holiday traditionally celebrates servants, and was marked by an employer or master delivering gifts to his or her employees. These days, it’s more of a pleasant repast to spend with friends, families, and more food. In 2012, one million delivery addresses were collected from online purchases. In 2013 three million delivery addresses were captured. That’s a 300 percent year-over-year increase. Still, Guy Muklow, CEO of Postcode Anywhere, does not expect to see anything as massive as the Boxing Day spike in 2014, much like the US market does not expect much to top Cyber Monday 2013 in the new year.
The UK Mobile Market Took Over: As e-commerce increased 40 percent over last year, not only did Boxing Day boom, but it was the first time the UK saw mobile numbers top desktop numbers. Sales made by mobile devices grew 63 percent from last year, capturing 45 percent of the e-commerce sales on Boxing Day (IBM). Much like the US, tablets were used more for point of sale, taking up 29.4 percent of all online sales, while smartphones primarily drove traffic, only accounting for 15.8 percent of online sales.
Online Visits Fell Short: Only 113 million UK shoppers visited websites on Boxing Day. According to, James Murray (from Experian Hitwise), this number still falls below predictions (126 million) due to the volumes of traffic on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In fact, UK retailers like John Lewis, Amazon UK and Debenhams introduced their promotions as early as Christmas Eve this year, causing an unexpected spike in online visits (84 million), which was as high as Cyber Monday in the UK.
Of Course Amazon Did Well
Mega e-commerce giant Amazon had no complaints for Holiday 2013. Not only did the company experience its best Holiday season to date (many thanks go to the 36.8 million items ordered on Cyber Monday), but its annual membership — Amazon Prime — welcomed one million new members in the third week of December. Amazon says that nearly half their customers (keep in mind those customers were buying those 36.8 items at a rate of 426 per second on Cyber Monday) made their purchases from a mobile device.
And the iPad
Ding! Ding! And if you didn’t notice a major trend throughout this post, the winner of the most popular mobile point of sale was the iPad. iPad purchases topped Cyber5 and Christmas Day sales in the US, and the iPad topped Boxing Day sales in the UK, according to IBM reports.
What to look for in 2014
The Solution to Browse vs. Buy: The mobile device divide still exists: shoppers will continue to browse on their smartphones and purchase on their tablets. In 2014 expect a device called the Smart Tab to surface, something that just might marry the two. Look for these 7-inch screen mobile devices very soon.
Continued Growth in Touch Commerce: Online shopping is more frequently accomplished with the tap of a screen while watching a TV show, standing in line at the grocery, or waiting to pick the kids up. Fewer shoppers are devoting the time it takes to purchase products and services from their laptops and desktops. Both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday mobile numbers were fine examples of what is to come.
New Delivery Methods to Meet Higher Customer Expectation: Thanks to major Christmas delivery snafus by FedEx and UPS, online retailers will be looking toward more local methods to ensure happy buyers get their goods delivered on time. eBay has already bought Shutl to keep up with the courier market, and Amazon is thinking about using drones. Yes, drones.