Top Cyber Monday 2023 Lessons for Retailers – Footwear News

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In this special edition of Tech Tuesdays, FN spoke with Meghan Stabler, senior vice president of marketing at BigCommerce, who offered insights into Cyber Week, spending trends and how footwear brands and retailers can win in the new year by investing in their tech stack.

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What are your reflections on Cyber Week 2023?

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Meghan Stabler: Cyber Week taught us that, despite economic headwinds, consumerism is alive and well. Not only did Amazon declare it their largest-ever holiday shopping period, but Adobe Analytics reported an unprecedented $38 billion in sales from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, marking a 7.8 percent increase from the previous year.

This trend rang true for our BigCommerce retailers, who saw a 10 percent year-over-year increase in gross merchandise value. This growth was driven not just by larger cart sizes, evidenced by a 3 percent increase in average order value, but also by a 7 percent rise in the total number of orders compared to the previous year.

What’s driving this influx of holiday shopping despite a shaky economy?

MS: While it’s hard to pinpoint any one reason, data shows two driving forces: deep discounts and an influx of flexible payment options like buy now, pay later (BNPL).

The National Retail Federation reports that 55 percent of consumers capitalized on early holiday deals, with 35 percent actively shopping the week before Thanksgiving. Despite this early engagement, Cyber Week still saw unprecedented sales. This suggests that retailers successfully conveyed a sense of urgency, implying that these sales, which started earlier than usual this year, would dry up post-Cyber Monday. Interestingly, we now see this may not be the case — with top retailers like Amazon, Nordstrom and QVC extending select Cyber Monday throughout the following week.

Another force driving this season’s growth is the influx of flexible payment options for consumers, like BNPL. According to Adobe Analytics, BNPL use hit an all-time high on Cyber Monday, driving $940 million in online spending, up 42.5 percent from a year earlier. Case in point, BNPL leader and BigCommerce technology partner Affirm saw its stock price skyrocket 110 percent in the past month. Why the appeal? People see BNPL’s zero- or low-interest payment plans as a more forgiving alternative compared to the high interest associated with accruing credit card debt.

What did retailers learn from Cyber Week?

MS: Our No. 1 takeaway from Cyber Week echoes a long-standing lesson for retailers: Consumers are savvier than ever. Not only do they expect discounts and certain customer service standards, like free shipping and returns, but they are skilled at using technology to hunt for deals and compare prices in real-time.

This year, it was clear that shoppers had a plan in place to maximize Cyber Week. We saw that firsthand at BigCommerce when our Thanksgiving Day online sales surged 12 percent over last year. This tells us that the cost-conscious consumer did their homework in advance — earmarking the exact items they wanted and then waiting for retailers to layer on early deals before pulling the trigger.

This increasingly savvy consumer also capitalizes on their favorite brand’s loyalty programs for earlier access to steeper discounts. According to a recent Forrester survey, 71 percent of U.S. adults say instant discounts are a big motivator for joining loyalty programs.

For retailers like Walmart and Alo Yoga, this meant extending exclusive early access to Cyber Week deals to their reward members. And this trend is likely here to stay, as it not only drives sales but also allows retailers to collect more first-party data to better understand, reach and convert consumers in the future.

With Cyber Week behind us, what advice do you have for retailers for the remainder of the holiday shopping season?

MS: As retailers approach the final stretch leading up to the holiday season, it’s essential to leverage the valuable data collected before and over Cyber Week to refine and enhance every customer’s personalized experience. Here’s the challenge — striking a balance between delivering a personalized experience without resorting to excessively over-communicating on any one channel. This is where both the nuances and sensitivities around retargeting become critical.

We’ve all experienced a scenario where daily SMS messages or emails from the same brand eventually drive you to the point of unsubscribing. This is where omnichannel shines. Rather than inundating consumers with a blanket brand message or generic product offering, a well-executed omnichannel strategy places the customer at the heart of the experience. This approach enables a deeper understanding of your customers, allowing you to meet them where they are with precisely the product they desire.

Retailers should also consider the “long tail” of the customer experience, which includes “last mile” aspects like shipping and returns. The convenience offered in these areas is a significant differentiator. Offering fair discounts, reliable shipping and easy returns will not only enhance the immediate shopping experience but also build long-term customer loyalty.

What advice do you have for retailers in 2024?

MS: As consumers get even more savvy and competition gets fiercer, investing in your omnichannel strategy has never been more important. Adjust your tech stack to provide a seamless and integrated customer experience across all channels, with the goal being to create a unified and consistent customer journey.

Critical to nailing your omnichannel strategy is quality data syndication. Consider working with product data feed and syndication platforms like Feedonomics, a BigCommerce company, to syndicate and optimize a brand’s product catalog across over 150 leading marketplaces, social commerce and advertising channels.

Finally, prioritize streamlining your checkout process as we move into the new year. With consumers accustomed to the seamless, single-page checkout offered by third-party marketplaces like Amazon, the importance of a frictionless and secure checkout experience is paramount to a retailer’s success.

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