Monday, November 28, 2011

Buyers click away as Cyber Monday sales jump 15%

By Hadley Malcolm, Jayne O'Donnell and Laura Petrecca, USA TODAY

The shopping season’s biggest online holiday was more popular than ever today as consumers rushed to the Web for exclusive Cyber Monday Deals.

Online traffic was up 43% from last year, says content delivery network Akamai, and online sales were up 15% over Cyber Monday 2010 as of 3 p.m. ET, says IBM Smarter Commerce, a Web performance analytics firm for 500 of the largest retail websites.
Matt Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation, says sales on Cyber Monday and over the long weekend show retail is "providing a needed shot in the arm to our nascent recovery."
Electronics are the most popular items this year, with sales up 26% over last year, and products such as flat-screen TVs and digital cameras are leading the pack, says PriceGrabber. EBay's Cyber Monday special Monday morning on a white Apple iPad2 for $449 sold out in less than two hours, says Richelle Parham, chief marketing officer for eBay North America.
Even with a flurry of online traffic, retailers appeared to pull off Cyber Monday without a glitch. Web performance expert Steve Tack says retailers have worked hard to deliver an online shopping season free of the website crashes and technical problems common in previous years.
"The industry has done a pretty good job of getting a stable site that is better at dealing with the demands placed on it," says Tack, chief technology officer for website and applications performance at Web-tracking company Compuware Gomez. "People only have so much patience. If a site is not loading fast enough, they'll abandon it."
Sara Mannone, 39, of Denver was enticed online Monday by Lands' End's promise of 30% off everything and free shipping. She says she didn't encounter any problems with the retailer's site and was happy with its customer service.
Sears spent more than a year preparing for this holiday season's deluge of digital shoppers, says Michael Murray, chief marketing officer of online for Sears Holdings. In addition to ramping up overall online capabilities, Sears also focused on making it easier for shoppers to buy via mobile devices.
"We spent the last year really focusing (to make sure) our mobile experience was full and complete," he says. They focused on speed, as well as features and functionality, he says.
Online luggage and handbag site eBags also did testing ahead of time to make sure its site could handle Cyber Monday traffic. It saw a record sales day, up 42.5% over last year, says Peter Cobb, the site's co-founder. He says luggage sets and packing cubes were among the day's best-selling items.

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