Rakuten Marketing reveals Christmas cyber shopping trends

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Today new data from digital marketing experts Rakuten Marketing reveals trends in Christmas online shopping habits. The Rakuten Affiliate Network said it has seen Christmas sales increase by 49% over the past two years. Now, its data from over 350 leading brands highlights both fresh insights into the Cyber Monday sales boom and the appetite for tablet shopping and cashback deals amongst thrifty Brits.

Late night and early bird shopping causes sales boom

The largest sales peak over the Christmas period occurs on Cyber Monday, with sales increasing by 72.6% YOY in 2013. Black Friday also continues to increasingly drive sales for retailers, with the network seeing a 134.4% growth in sales.

Typically, shopping peaks on Cyber Monday and Black Friday during the evening hours between 6pm and 9pm, with around a quarter (26% and 23%) of sales taking place between these hours on these days. However, as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been increasingly well-marketed, shoppers are also purchasing early in the morning on these days, even getting up to shop online between 6am and 9am to take immediate advantage of the offers launched by brands. In fact, 15% of sales on Black Friday took place prior to 9am.

Shoppers clearly don’t wait to buy if they see a good deal, and lots of Brits have been seen to shop on the Sunday night before Cyber Monday. In fact, aside from Cyber Monday, the largest sales peak (between 28 November and 3 December 2013) happens three hours before Cyber Monday on the previous night and this day is also the peak across the whole Christmas shopping period for conversions from retargeting. If consumers find a compelling offer or attractive product they will still buy without waiting for Cyber Monday itself.

Sales peaks also occur on the Royal Mail’s Last Delivery Date and Boxing Day, when shoppers are already tapping into the Christmas sales during the bank holiday. Mid Cyber Monday, the second Monday in December, was also observed as a new trend for 2013, and on this day the Rakuten Affiliate network actually saw higher sales than on Black Friday.

Sumitra Joy, head of analytics at Rakuten Marketing, said: “Marketers need to be making their brand visible on these days, as well as the days following and leading up to them, to be in the game this Christmas. Brands should harness detailed shopping insights to target their customers with the right campaigns, and by understanding the most popular dates, times, as well as products and devices, retailers can create targeted content to stand out at this very competitive time of year.”

Desktop drives Black Friday, but shoppers tap up tablets

For Black Friday and Cyber Monday desktop sales dominate, driving over 75% of the sales, suggesting that the “blow out” quick promotions offered on these retail days are easier to purchase on a desktop, rather than a mobile device. However, across all product sectors and throughout the Christmas period, tablets show the highest conversion rate, at 6.0% for 2013 and 5.7% for 2012.

Although smartphone shows the lowest conversion rate; it has increased by over a third from 1.0% in 2012 to 1.6% in 2013, highlighting a growing appetite for on-the-go shopping. More than any other sector, beauty purchases are made on smartphone, highlighting that it is the device of convenience for smaller items or regularly bought products.

Loyalty pays off

Loyalty and cashback sites see the highest conversion rates across the Christmas period driving over a quarter (25.9%) of sales. Retargeting after basket abandonment also creates nearly a fifth of conversions (17.1%). These publishers are particularly effective in driving luxury sales, suggesting that these shoppers are tempted to buy when reminded of an item, and are attracted by a cashback offer.

Joy said: “Data and measurement is invaluable to help brands understand their audiences, and only with the right toolkit can retail marketers attribute budget intelligently, into the right campaigns and across numerous channels.”