Predicting e-commerce in 2013 (+Lessons from Cyber Monday Report 2012)

Cyber Monday: Record shopping day in online sales

Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after Black Friday, and the term “Cyber Monday” was coined by marketing folks trying to persuade people to shop online. In fact, these folks (hate or love ‘em) were so successful they have turned Cyber Monday into the biggest spending day ever in online sales.

Given its significance in online shopping, Cyber Monday is often cited in quantitative studies whenever a (historical) perspective on digital consumer behavior is called for.

Cyber Mondays also present great learning opportunities for e-retailers because it reflects, to a certain extent, the overall growth trend of the e-commerce space.

This year, IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark has released a report that, among many things, includes a comparison of the figures between this year’s Cyber Monday and last year’s.

Looking into the findings of the Cyber Monday Report 2012, there’s plenty of takeaways. Above everything else, I’d like to bring your attention to what these statistics can potentially be signalling at for e-commerce 2013.

Here are 5 things that can happen to e-commerce in 2013:

i. BIGGER growth in e-commerce sales

Online sales in this year’s Cyber Monday has grown by 30.25 percent over the same period in 2011. If there’s one Stat of the Year on this subject, this has got to be it. The reason it hasn’t been such a great deal because Cyber Monday 2013 will be even bigger when it arrives. And that is not too bold a prediction to say the least.

e-Commerce sales will occupy an even greater proportion of sales come 2013, with more household getting comfortable to the idea of shopping online. In fact, new visitor conversion rate for Cyber Monday 2012 (4.74%) has also shown a modest improvement over its previous year (4.39%), which might prove that the acceptance of e-commerce as a shopping medium is still as as steady as ever, if not more.

As the inflated perception of risk associated with online shopping (typically in its early days) are being ironed out — and these goes for privacy concerns as well — the acceptance of such medium will see more transactions, the same way Online consumers are buying more items per order on Cyber Monday 2012 (8.34 as compared to 7.31). In 2013, e-commerce will garner even wider acceptance and trust me when I say that width doesn’t fully characterized the sort of growth for the e-commerce space we’re about to see. The growth we’re about to witness is equally accountable to depth as well, by which we mean more frequent purchases and bigger lifetime value per customer.

ii. Mobile shopping in 2013: Nearly One-Fifth of traffic to shopping sites

As it stands, one fifth of all European mobile users are already using Mobile Banking; One out of five U.S. subscribers used their mobile phone to access their bank account, credit card or other financial account in the 12-month period ending in January 2012, and an additional one out of five respondents said they would likely leverage mobile banking services at some point in the future (source: Federal Reserve Board, March 2012).

In 2013, one fifth of all banking transactions will be made using mobile devices (now that pick-up rate is surprising!) but whenever the same level growth has been predicted for mobile traffic in e-commerce, it has mostly been dismissed as an “inflated” overvaluation. Well, there might be some truth in it but in 2013, mobile traffic to shopping sites should find itself reasonably close to making the 20% mark.

Where in its previous year mobile traffic has only accounted slightly more than 10% of the total, in Cyber Monday 2012, mobile traffic has contributed to more than 18%. This represents more than 70 percent of increase. It is difficult not to see how mobile shopping will mature in its present role in e-commerce as we move into year 2013. On that note, mobile sales (e-commerce sales transacted on a mobile device) has also seen an increase of more than 96 percent in Cyber Monday 2012 compared to the last’s, making up 13 percent of total sales that day.

iii. The Apple demographic as early adopters for mobile shopping platforms

In 2013, smartphones and tablets like the iPad will see even frequent consumer usage for e-commerce. What is curiously interesting with the findings is that iPad has dominated tablet traffic on Cyber Monday 2012 at 90.5 percent, followed by Amazon Kindle at 2.6 percent.

Read that again. The iPad account for a whooping 90.5 percent of tablet traffic and the closest competitor isn’t exactly what you call a threat to such dominance at only 2.6 percent. Who’s the second largest contributor in mobile traffic? The iPhone (followed by Android smartphones).

It’s hard to see the iPad losing its leadership status in the tablet market, and the Apple’s demographic as a whole would be a key growth area for e-commerce in 2013. In view of this, retailers and brands are more inclined to invest in- and develop for the iOS platform, rolling out branded content. e-catalogue and shopping apps on Apple’s App Store. This would in turn encourage purchasing intent and give way to a self-fulfilling cycle.

Statistically, the Apple demographic (which, I’m aware, is a very loosely defined term) will by large and far be the early adopters of new mobile shopping platforms and technologies that are lined up for 2013.

iv. Savvy consumers and multiscreen shopping the norm in 2013

Multiscreen shopping used to be a thing of only the most savvy of consumers but in 2013, smartphone applications that reinforce the bargain-hunting mentality will find even widespread popularity. This year, 58.1 percent of consumers used smartphones as compared to 41.9 who surf for bargains on a tablet. The added convenience and portability of a pocket device puts multiscreen shopping so much at ease it would be a crime not to take advantage of retailer deals.

In fact, when entitled to free shipping or other promotional deals, it is observed that online consumers will transact at greater frequency, albeit at a lesser average value per order. As 2013 approach, it will be interesting to watch if such trend would persist and its implication on e-commerce and mobile shopping. At any rate, deal sites or curating platforms would be an indispensable element of mobile-driven commerce in 2013.

v.Stronger emphasis on social commerce attribution in 2013

IBM’s report defines social sales as ‘shoppers referred from Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube’. If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, the ideology isn’t a whole lot different from assisted social conversion.

We’ve been generally bullish on the e-commerce landscape in 2013 but here’s a piece of stat that would dampen the mood.

Social Networks, according to the Cyber Monday Report, has only managed to generate 0.41 percent of all online sales on Cyber Monday, and that represents a decrease of more than 26 percent from it’s previous year.

Yes. Less than half of 1 percent. Twice of what Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube combined couldn’t manage even 1 percent of all online sales on the biggest shopping day of the year. Things are made worse when Twitter, the social network that supposedly drives the most traffic, is reported to have driven 0% of referral traffic (Facebook at 0.69%) on Cyber Monday 2012. Altogether, social traffic only accounts for 0.80% of site traffic.

Given what we know about social commerce this just doesn’t sounds right. It probably isn’t, after all, and the reason is what Josh Costine called a social commerce attribution problem. What he meant by that is a lack of trackability in assisted social conversion, or a flaw in the methodology — the way analysts interpret collected data, qualifies these raw data, or regards conversion attribution for each sales transaction.

In 2013, however, we can expect the respective social networks to roll out improvement that enable better accountability and conversion attribution across the e-commerce industry. Facebook has a cookie-powered platform and a User ID matching system while the rest has yet to make any remarkable headway.

Twitter has confirmed with me that it doesn’t have any downstream conversion tracking right now, which means it isn’t getting the credit it deserves. I think correcting that will be a big focus for Twitter in 2013. -Josh Costine

The trends signalled favorably towards a bigger, better e-commerce ecosystem in 2013. As innovations make their way into the mobile space and deal aggregating platforms continue to mature, what has been a thing of the savvy consumers will find greater breakthrough.

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  1. […] « Predicting e-commerce in 2013 (+Lessons from Cyber Monday Report 2012) […]

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