E-commerce software provider Ve dissects Cyber weekend data from 2014 to see what’s in store for this year

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Black Friday famously overtook Cyber Monday last year as the UK’s top online shopping day event. But is this trend true for the other global players when it comes to e-commerce? And on a granular level, what were the abandonment rates and sales uplifts for the two biggest ecommerce events of the year? What can we expect of Cyber Monday and Black Friday 2015?

E-commerce software provider Ve has collated data to help dissect the 2014 cyber weekend across five core global retail powerhouses: the UK, the US, Germany, Japan and China. With these findings, it aims to answer the above questions and offer a data-driven perspective on what has become the biggest time of year for those navigating the ecommerce world.

All uplift stats are in comparison to average 2014 sales/abandonments per day in each respective territory.

UK
For the first time, Black Friday overtook Cyber Monday last year as the UK’s key shopping day. Becoming an established term in the UK vernacular drove retailers to slash prices both online and in-store. However, this came at a price, with numerous reports of aggressive crowds fighting over televisions in ASDA and two arrests at a Manchester Tesco.

This year there has been a deliberate shift from this trend by retailers such as ASDA and Argos, who want to move away from the negative brand impression chaos that Black Friday can cause and consequently only offer online discounts.

The stats:
Black Friday Sales Uplift – 62.06%
Black Friday Abandonments Uplift – 49.22%
Cyber Monday Sales Uplift – 42.37%
Cyber Monday Abandonments Uplift – 33.40%

Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday received decent uplifts, showing that online shopping events are still as important to the UK bargain hunters and early Christmas shoppers as ever. It may simply be due to the more established moniker of the former that has driven increased online sales or the comparatively fewer discounts offered on Cyber Monday, but Black Friday remains the core date for UK shoppers. However, the unfortunate timing of pay day’s occurrence for many between the two dates this year could present an interesting swing in behaviour for 2015.

The near 50% uplift in abandonments on Black Friday suggests that whilst consumers are engaging with the shopping event online and keen to check out deals, they are often browsing without committing to purchase, perhaps just checking to see what their chosen retailer is offering. In comparison, the clarity of Cyber Monday deals and core online focus, drives a much lower abandonment rate.

US
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the brainchildren of the American retail world, so naturally the US has led the way when it comes to shaping Cyber weekend trends.

A longstanding tradition dating back to the 1960s that occurs the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005 in the US. Although its core focus has been on driving footfall and high street retailer sales (with some shops starting sales as early as 5pm on the preceding Thursday), online stores will also slash prices to encourage transactions. In April 2014, .blackfriday became a recognised TLD; however the actual uptake of these has made little impact.

Cyber Monday has much more recent origins of 2005, introduced by Shop.org’s marketing team as a natural extension of Black Friday. It is quickly becoming one of the biggest dates for online commerce, rivalling its older sibling in a number of territories.

Stats:
Black Friday Sales Uplift – 25.61%
Black Friday Abandonments Uplift – 13.81%
Cyber Monday Sales Uplift – 99.3%
Cyber Monday Abandonments Uplift – 79.16%

The Black Friday sales uplift is the lowest of any of the five eCommerce players we’ve looked at, whereas the Cyber Monday sales uplift is almost the highest. This suggests that whilst Black Friday success might have plateaued slightly or remain confined to the walls of bricks and mortar establishments, Cyber Monday is still very much growing as a modern phenomenon.

Intriguingly, Black Friday has a markedly low abandonment uplift in the States, especially in comparison to the other countries. This suggests that whilst the Black Friday sales uplift may not be massive, businesses have effectively curated their online deals to directly compete with physical retailers, and as such, a large proportion of consumers are actually converting.

Germany
Whilst Germany is a comparatively small contender among the five eCommerce heavyweights we’ve looked at, it’s the largest ecommerce market in Central Europe, with an impressive population of 70.5 million internet users and an ecommerce turnover of €63.4 billion. Impressive 2014 sales in Germany, undoubtedly supported by electronics powerhouse Saturn holding a ‘black weekend’ of discounts and offers, showed that there is a definitive globalisation of the formerly American institution.

Stats:
Black Friday Sales Uplift – 54.84%
Black Friday Abandonments Uplift – 93.3%
Cyber Monday Sales Uplift – 101.49%
Cyber Monday Abandonments Uplift – 144.46%

Germany had a strong Black Friday sales uplift but an impressive 101.49% uplift in Cyber Monday sales (the highest of any of the five countries), which may suggest that it is more of an established name. This is supported by the move that amazon.de undertook in 2014, where their ‘Cyber Monday Week’ was extended to begin on the Monday before Thanksgiving (and as an extension, before Black Friday).

However, whilst the sales uplifts are encouraging, they bring with them a considerable rise in abandonments – perhaps suggesting that whilst there is a buzz around the deals, the discounts and offers may not be as compelling as other territories.

Japan
Japan is an established eCommerce heavyweight, leading the way in smartphone conversions and mCommerce in general. However, culturally, the Cyber weekend is not as significant when compared to European counterparts – in fact, the key dates for Japan are reserved for summer/winter periods and the New Year custom of ‘Fukubukuro’, whereby blind bags of unknown random contents are sold at a substantial discount. It’s unlikely for this reason to ever see notable changes in sales figures.

Stats:
Black Friday Sales Uplift – 28.6%
Black Friday Abandonments Uplift – 72.06%
Cyber Monday Sales Uplift – 18.32%
Cyber Monday Abandonments Uplift – 82.29%

Black Friday just about ‘wins’ in the sales uplift stakes, but it’s important to note that, unlike some of the other countries we’ve looked at, Black Friday and Cyber Monday had similar sales and abandonment uplifts for both days. The actual growth in sales could instead be attributed to a near proximity to the New Year sales or natural seasonality.

China
China’s eCommerce industry is booming thanks to many factors, from government policy to mobile upsurge through to social media usage. The Cyber weekend may not reach the dizzying success of Singles’ Day, championed by Alibaba in China, but it’s still a solid part of the Chinese eCommerce calendar.

Stats:
Black Friday Sales Uplift – 93.48%
Black Friday Abandonments Uplift – 97.16%
Cyber Monday Sales Uplift – 55.61%
Cyber Monday Abandonments Uplift – 64.34%

Black Friday trumps Cyber Monday in the sales uplift stakes and equally so when it comes to abandonment uplift. The uplifts are relatively high in comparison to the other four countries, showing the power of the two shopping day events in China. However, as supported by recent news reports, these pale in comparison to the behemoth of Singles Day, which actually drove a 215% increase in sales, effectively doubling figures on Black Friday.

Takeaways
Whilst Black Friday might hold dominion in the UK, the stats show that across the five eCommerce power houses, there is no clear winner when it comes to the two major shopping events. The shifts and inclines towards each respective day can in part be attributed to cultural differences – for example, Japan cannot fairly be compared to US, as the Cyber weekend is simply not an established institution, as it is in the States.

 

However, there is some correlation between the uplift of each metric and how long the Cyber weekend has been instituted as a shopping event. In the UK, for example, Black Friday is more established as a shopping day and arguably therefore more successful. But on the flipside of this conclusion, the US has seen particular uplift success with Cyber Monday, thanks in part to its new and exciting presence as an online shopping institution.

The high abandonment rate uplifts across the territories suggests that, whilst consumers may be engaging with the Cyber weekend, they often remain browsers without committing through to purchase.

What could 2015 hold for the Cyber weekend?

In the UK we expect to see continued growth for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but for the gap between the two to shrink, thanks to decreased retailer involvement with Black Friday this year. Conversely, we expect the gap to widen between the two days in the US due to the plateau effect of Black Friday’s impact.

As consumers become savvier, more confident and increasingly tactical with deal hunting and browsing to keep up with an evolving digital landscape, it’s a logical assumption that abandonment is only going to grow across all territories. It’s for this reason that the marketing messages, clarity of offers and website performance is going to be more important than ever for companies vying for attention at this time.

So, will Black Friday or Cyber Monday win? It’s a tough one to call and we’re interested to see how the showdown plays out. But we’re going to put our money on Black Friday.