Home > Uncategorized > E-retailers cash in on holiday sales

E-retailers cash in on holiday sales

November 28, 2015, 3:37 PM

Allison Enright BY ALLISON ENRIGHT Editor
U.S. e-retailers collected nearly $4.5 billion over 48 hours, and many are extending Black Friday discounts through Saturday. Others are looking ahead to Cyber Monday, adding fresh discounts for the big shopping days ahead.

U.S. e-retailers collected $4.47 billion online on Thanksgiving and Friday, an increase of 18% over the same period a year ago, according to Adobe Inc.’s Digital Index and ahead of the overall 15% growth pace estimated by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Individual e-retailers say their growth varied, but that Thanksgiving appears to have been the stronger day in terms of percentage growth, while Friday saw greater total sales. Web sales on Thursday totaled $1.73 billion, up 25% year over year, and totaled $2.74 billion on Friday, up about 14%, Adobe says, based on measurements it took on 4,500 retail sites. Retailers also say their sales on Amazon.com Inc.’s marketplace grew significantly year over year.

At Silver Star Brands, which operates seven e-retail sites including Miles Kimball, Walter Drake and Easy Comforts and is No. 201 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, year-over-year sales increases ranged from 18%-42% on Thanksgiving and 12%-30% on Friday, depending on the brand, says Ian MacDonald, director of e-commerce. He says sales on Friday morning were tracking flat, but then accelerated in the afternoon and evening. In particular, sales on Silver Star storefronts on Amazon.com were up 86% on Black Friday, an increase MacDonald attributes to Amazon’s continued growth and consumers using it as a starting place to search for products. Still, Silver Star’s 86% sales growth on Amazon on Friday was out of proportion to what the e-retailer expected. “That is a much stronger lift than we saw through November up to that point,” MacDonald says.

Amazon.com in the United States has not yet shared any sales figures, but in the United Kingdom Amazon.co.uk says Friday was its biggest sales day to date. It says it sold 7.4 million items on Friday, up from about 5.5 million a year earlier.

ChannelAdvisor Corp. data shows average year-over-year sales growth on Friday of 20.8% for its merchant clients selling through Amazon’s marketplace. Across all channels it tracks, Friday growth was 20.3%, with Google Shopping growing the most year over year at 40.3%. Growing a lesser amount on Friday were sales on eBay Inc.’s marketplace, growing sales 1.5%. ChannelAdvisor chairman Scot Wingo notes that eBay took a different tack on Black Friday, focusing its marketing promotions on collectibles and precious metals sales, which may have affected the draw for consumers seeking deals on TVs and toys.

At handbag and luggage e-retailer eBags Inc., though, eBay performed better than it has for years, says co-founder Peter Cobb. “EBay sales crushed it, hitting a single-day all-time high,” Cobb says. EBags’ previous high day on eBay was Black Friday in 2011. Without revealing figures, Cobb says the e-retailer’s sales yesterday on eBay were up 64% from the 2011 high.

EBay did not reveal how the marketplace performed in aggregate on Black Friday, but did point out hot-selling items. Consumers bought more than 15,000 Star Wars items and more than 11,000 discounted iTunes gift cards.

EBags.com’s sales on Amazon on Friday also increased, up 63.7% year over year, Cobb says. He says the product assortment eBags has offered through Amazon has remained consistent and has always done well, and that this year eBags participated in some Lightning Deals promotions on Amazon, which delivered sales. Lightning Deals are limited-time deals offered on Amazon that get promoted to consumers. Across all channels, sales growth was in the mid-teens for eBags.

EBags on Saturday was doing what a lot of other e-retailers were doing: It extended its Black Friday offers so consumers had an extra 24 hours to shop the deals. EBags sent an email to customers this morning with the subject line: “Extended: Bag your Black Friday deals before they are gone” and continued its 20% off sitewide promotion. Cobb says as of noon, Saturday sales were up 50% year over year.

Other Top 500-ranked e-retailers extending Black Friday offers—many of which were available on Thanksgiving as well—into Saturday include Overstock.com Inc. (No. 31), Edible Arrangements (No. 113), Tabcom’s Dog.com (No. 312), Gap Inc.’s Gap.com (No. 18) and Threadless.com (No. 328). Threadless.com’s email to consumers read: “Who forgot to turn off the sale?” and offered $12 t-shirts, a 40% discount and free shipping on orders of $75 or more. Neiman Marcus (No. 43), which ran into problems on Friday with intermittent site outages that lasted for several hours, also extended its offers through 6 p.m. Saturday.

Promotional email is playing a big role in clinching holiday weekend sales. Consumers responding to email messages accounted for 25.1% of website visits that resulted in sales on Black Friday, according to marketing platform vendor Custora, which tracked transactions across more than 200 e-retailers. Email was the top place the sales process started, followed by organic search (21.1%), direct traffic (17.4%), paid search (16.3%), affiliate marketing (12.3%), other (5.1%), social media (1.7%) and display advertising (1.1%). “The fact that once again this year, email marketing was the top online marketing channel on Black Friday shows how important email is to winning in e-commerce during the holiday season, and throughout the year,” says Corey Pierson, Custora CEO.

U.S. e-retailers sent email with greater frequency than years past, says Jim Davidson, head of research at marketing services firm Bronto Software. 42.4% of the more than 400 e-retailers tracked sent two or more promotional messages on Thanksgiving, up from 37.0% that did so a year ago. 51.8% sent two or more on Friday, up from 43.8% a year ago.

While many e-retailers on Saturday continued the deals they offered on Friday to make the most of Black Friday fervor, market-leader Amazon.com moved onto the next big sales event, Cyber Monday, in its messaging. Amazon’s message to consumers today used the subject line: “Cyber Monday deals week starts today.

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