Cyber Monday Breaks Records, Stalls Target, Mobilizes Walmart - Twice

Cyber Monday Breaks Records, Stalls Target, Mobilizes Walmart

The biggest day in U.S. online shopping
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The numbers are in and Cyber Monday appears to be one for the record books.

Updated! The numbers are in and Cyber Monday appears to be one for the record books.

According to retail analytics firm Custora, Nov. 30 was the biggest day in U.S. online shopping ever, with e-commerce revenue up 16.2 percent and orders up 14.7 percent year over year.

But the high volumes proved a dual-edged sword for Target.com, which choked amid its own record-breaking sales.

The retailer, which offered an unprecedented 15 percent off all online items yesterday along with free shipping, said it intentionally reduced site functionality as orders came in at a rate two times faster than historic peaks.

As a result, shoppers experienced intermittent delays throughout the day and, in an ironic twist to the e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar debate, were forced to wait on digital checkout queues.

“We knew there’d be a tremendous response to our 15 percent off site-wide offer, and the demand was even higher than we anticipated,” said Jason Goldberger, president of Target.com and mobile.

Nonetheless, Cyber Monday proved to be the company’s biggest online sales day ever, he said, led by a $300 Xbox One 500GB Gears of War: Ultimate Edition bundle (the day’s top-selling item), and a 48-inch Samsung 4K UHD TV for $600, which sold at a rate of two per minute.

For Walmart, which kicked off Cyber Monday the night before, the day belonged to mobile.

“Mobile firmly established itself as the dominant shopping trend for both traffic and sales,” said Fernando Madeira, president/CEO of Walmart.com. “Our customers went from previously mostly searching and browsing on mobile to making purchases at a much higher rate.”

 Indeed, more than 70 percent of site traffic and nearly half of all orders — up 100 percent over last year — originated from mobile devices since Thanksgiving, he noted.

Top Cyber Monday sellers included 50- to 55-inch 4K Ultra HD TVs, drones, Xbox One and PS4 video game bundles, and iPad Minis, Madeira said.

>>See what happens when Black Friday and Cyber Monday cross wires, courtesy of Conan O'Brien

Walmart’s mobile shift was echoed by Custora, which found that mobile accounted for over a quarter (26.9 percent) of all online orders yesterday, up from 23 percent last year. Much of the sales volume was driven by email marketing (accounting for 22.1 percent of sales), free search (20.7 percent) and paid search (16.6 percent), while social media spurred only 1.5 percent of orders.

Interestingly, average ticket edged up only 1.3 percent, indicating a less promotion-driven Cyber Monday, the researchers suggested.

Custora said it derives its data by tracking real-time online transactions from over 200 U.S. online retailers, 500 million online shoppers and over $100 billion in transaction revenue.

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