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Cyber Monday sales up: Three eCommerce lessons from the US

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 | By Patrick Stafford

A week after the Click Frenzy debacle in Australia, Americans have started Cyber Monday – the yearly sale that inspired the local version.

 

Named for the first workday following the Thanksgiving holiday, Cyber Monday is a chance for retailers to kick start their Christmas sales, particularly if they only operate online.

 

And it's a huge success – early indications from IBM statistics suggest sales could be up by a quarter on last year.

 

But unlike Australia's version, Cyber Monday has gone off without a hitch. Sites are up and running, everyone is happy and, most of all, retailers are taking in sales like they've never seen before.

 

So what makes Cyber Monday run smoothly when compared to Click Frenzy's not-so-positive debut? While it's a combination of America being ahead of Australia when it comes to the penetration of online retail, it's clear that businesses are just plain smarter about how they go about announcing their digital deals.

 

Here's a few lessons we ought to take from Cyber Monday, in preparation for future online deals of our own:

 

1. Announce the deals in advance

 

If you analyse the strategies of major Cyber Monday participants in the United States, like Amazon, or Best Buy, you'll notice one thing: they all announced their deals in advance.

 

While the actual discounts didn't start until today, shoppers already knew they had good deals waiting for them. And while retailers say advertising deals in advance takes away any power they have, it's exactly the opposite: A good deal will spread like wildfire across the internet. Buzz will rise on Twitter and Facebook, and you'll see how much demand your deals are getting.

 

The other benefit is that it allows for sites to prepare for major bursts of traffic – something that would have been beneficial during the Click Frenzy outage.

 

2. Spread them over a longer period of time

 

The Thanksgiving holiday really extends over several days. Most people aren't going to shop on just one day; they want to spread their shopping out over a weekend.

 

So most businesses have their deals start on Black Friday and then extend into early next week.

 

Having a limited time on discounts is a good idea, as it encourages bulk purchases, but it also can't be so short a time that it restricts the buyer. Spreading discounts over a few days is a better way to go.

 

3. Mobile is the way to go

 

The use of mobiles for shopping online is a growing trend, one which Google recently pointed out surges in December as more people shop on the go. Many of the retailers participating in Cyber Monday have gone out of their way to create good, comprehensive mobile sites.

 

After all, you don't want to miss out on sales when people are out and about, away from a desktop or laptop.

 

Creating a mobile site isn't just necessary; it's critical when you're running online-only sales. And it's only ever going to become more important.

 

This story first appeared on SmartCompany.