Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hey, no cuts!

I can predict the future, and I can prove it. Millions of people will purchase 12 month health club memberships on 01/02/2014. These savvy shoppers will go to their new health club a few times in January, never to return. And these same people will do it AGAIN every so many years (purchasing health club memberships - never using said health club memberships). Brilliant.
People will go to work on 12/02/2013 (tomorrow) and no matter what their company policy - these loyal employees will spend many hours online, shopping. Not working from their cubical, but shopping from their cubical. Heck, we have faster Internet at work, right?
If you want to predict future behavior, just look at past behavior. We all know this is true, it is common sense. But never in recorded history has it been easier to track human behavior, with “big data” and the power of the Internet. It is so easy to see the future. And even when you can clearly see the future (good or bad) we are powerless to change it.
Or are we?
Why will someone leave their warm cozy home to stand in line (in the cold) to get a “door buster” bargain on something that is going to be a gift for someone else? Why do corporations risk public ridicule opening their stores on what was previously a national holiday? If I sold fuel oil for your home at 25% off would you stand in line at midnight (in the cold) to grab that bargain?
As of this blog, the website has the following message:
The Health Insurance Marketplace online application isn't available from approximately 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. EST daily while we make improvements. Additional down times may be possible as we work to make things better. The rest of the site and the Marketplace call center remain available during these hours.
Now please, put your love / hate of the Affordable Care Act to the side for just a minute. Let’s just focus on the technology.
In the past 90 days, no website in the world has had more news coverage than  This website has become the top news story. Because it did not work, it became news. It could not handle the traffic. The online store for health care was broken, and the best minds in the most technologically advanced country in the world could not make it work. One day, the eCommerce site for Obamacare will be the topic of discussion in major business schools, but for today, this eCommerce showcase site is still not ready for prime time. USA! USA! < sigh >
Because could not handle the traffic, the quick fix was to ask people to please log in during low traffic hours - please use the site in the early morning, or late at night. Please don’t use the site during typical high traffic hours. We simply cannot handle the demand, please work with us. Thank you.
< Insert hysterical laughter here >
Has no one heard of Cyber Monday? Black Friday? And now Brown Thursday? Humans are the most predictable of creatures. We will stand outside in the cold to get a Smartphone on sale. We will risk losing our jobs, shopping online while at work, challenging our bosses to try to stop us. What did you think would happen, when you asked people to come back and shop for health care during low peak hours? I am still laughing, are you?
I have seen people sleep overnight on sidewalks to get a new iPhone. I have seen people leave their warm, safe homes - leave their families and relatives that they only see once a year, to shop on Black Friday / Brown Thursday. These are the same people that you are asking to log in during low traffic hours. What were you thinking?
People want what they want -and they want it NOW!
Everything below this line is from 2012. If you want it to be current and accurate for 2013, just add around 5% to these numbers. Maybe even 10%. Happy Shopping!
  • Big sales increase (again) – According to an IBM report, Cyber Monday sales increased by 30.3% compared to last year. The number of consumers shopping online peaked at approximately 11:25 AM EST with another strong peak later in the evening at approximately 9:10 PM EST. These peaks are likely due to the commuting patterns throughout the U.S. during traditional work hours as people shop once they get to work and when they arrive home.
  • Total sales may vary – According to Adobe, total sales reached $1.98 billion on Cyber Monday, a 17% increase from 2011. Analytics firm comScore also reported a 17% increase but a lower fiscal value at $1.46 billion in sales.
  • Mobile shopping soars – According to IBM, more than 18% of online shoppers used a mobile device to shop online on Cyber Monday 2012, an increase of over 70% from the previous year. Mobile sales accounted for approximately 13% of all sales for online retailers, almost double the amount of mobile sales on Cyber Monday 2011. The iPad dominated mobile traffic, surprisingly ahead of smartphone models, and accounted for over 90% of all tablet traffic to retail sites.
  • At-home shopping increases – Cyber Monday, since its inception in 2005, has been known as an online holiday for consumers to shop as they return to work on Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend. According to comScore, for the first time ever, purchases made from at-home devices (up 4% in 2012 to 47.2%) surpassed purchases made from work devices (down 3.1% to 47.1%). This shift in shopping location is likely tied to the increased usage in mobile devices, especially at home during the early and late hours of Cyber Monday.
  • Consumers shop smarter – As online shoppers continue to spend more on Cyber Monday, they are also becoming smarter in regards to where their dollars are spent in order to take advantage of promotions such as free shipping. According to IBM, the average order value on Cyber Monday dropped 6.6% to $185.12, but the average number of items per order increased 14.1% to 8.34 items.
  • Pinterest leads social sales growth – According to Adobe, sales generated via Facebook and Twitter accounted for 77% for all social referral sales on Cyber Monday 2012, a percentage which is almost identical to Cyber Monday 2011. However, Pinterest was the big winner in the social media space this Cyber Monday with approximately 15% of social referral sales, a 105% increase from last year. Social referral sales from other social media sites (such as MySpace) fell to only 8%.
  • Cyber Monday is getting competition – In our preview post related to Cyber Monday 2012, we mentioned that Black Friday saw exceptional growth in online sales last year and could challenge Cyber Monday in the future as the biggest online shopping day of the year. According to comScore, Black Friday online sales surpassed $1 billion for the first time ever ($1.04 billion) with approximately 57.3 million Americans visiting at least one online retail site on Black Friday (an 18% increase from last year).  As more retailers develop multi-channel solutions it will likely become more common for these retailers to offer the same in-store promotions to their online audience.

Cyber Monday 2012 was yet another historic day for the online retail industry. With double digit sales growth and initial sales reports roughly in the $1.5 to $2 billion range it’s no surprise more records were once again broken this year. The major difference between Cyber Monday 2012 and previous years is primarily the exponential growth of mobile shopping, likely a key catalyst behind at-home sales overtaking workplace sales for the very first time. As the online retail industry continues to evolve, days such as Thanksgiving and Black Friday will likely continue to see strong online sales growth as multi-channel retailers continue to unify their online and offline promotions.

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