United States: Cyber Monday, Social Commerce And The End Of An Era

Online sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend—Cyber Monday—have continued to increase year over year since the day was first christened "Cyber Monday" in 2004. As social media enthusiasts, we were surprised to learn that social networks drove only 1.5% of the avalanche of online orders placed on Cyber Monday in 2014.

Social media platforms, however, are poised to become much more important players in Cyber Monday 2015.

Indeed, many industry experts are considering this holiday season "a testing ground for social commerce," as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are at various stages of implementing the "buy button"—a feature that allows social media users to purchase products they see in the brand posts that appear in their feeds without even leaving the platform.

Because Facebook's buy button program is still in its early stages, only a small group of retailers are involved, and Facebook users might not even see a buy button on Monday. Pinterest's buy button program is much further along, however, and now features more than 10,000 businesses, some of which are reaping great benefits as a result of their partnership with the online pinboard.

How Monday's buy button results will affect marketers' social media efforts in the future remains to be seen. In the meantime, here's a rundown of consumer behavior on Cyber Monday last year:

  • U.S. online sales amounted to more than $2 billion, up from $1.74 billion in 2013
  • 23.9% of sales originated through email marketing
  • Online search results that were paid for by retailers generated 18.8% of sales
  • Online search results that were paid for by retailers generated 16% of sales
  • Average value of online purchases originating from Facebook: $123
  • Average value of online purchases originating from Pinterest: $97
  • There were 339,959 discussions about Cyber Monday on social media, a 75% increase over 2013
  • The brands mentioned most often were Amazon, Etsy, Motorola and EA

Of course, as we noted in an earlier post, in recent years consumers have started their online shopping earlier in the holiday weekend. As more Americans have access to high-speed Internet connections at home, they no longer need to wait until arriving at work on the Monday after Thanksgiving to do their online binge purchasing. In fact, online sales on Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving famous for long lines at brick & mortar retail stores— increased 26% in 2014 over 2013.

So, even if social media is successful in goosing Cyber Monday sales this year, will Cyber Monday itself increasingly be viewed as a relic of an earlier age, having been pushed up to merge with Black Friday?

Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Morrison & Foerster LLP. All rights reserved

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