If you don’t know that the five busiest business days of the year just passed, then you’re probably not a retail or e-commerce marketer. On the other hand, if you have successfully decompressed and regained the bulk of your sanity when you woke up last Tuesday morning, you probably are a marketer and may find this list handy as you recap the single largest revenue-driving period of the year.

Though Christmas hasn’t passed yet, for all intents and purposes, another year is in the books for retail and e-commerce marketers. Understanding the competitive landscape is important to any retrospective and future planning, so here’s a quick roundup of what we saw in the email/e-commerce space during the top sales period of the year.

Email “From” Names

Subject-line and from-name strategy is always important, but during the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when email volume rose 31 percent & 87 percent respectively, it’s more important than ever to stand out and earn the attention of eager shoppers. Here’s how a couple of e-commerce giants used these tactics in an attempt to set themselves apart this holiday shopping season:

  • From Sunday, November 25 through Wednesday, November 28 (the day before Thanksgiving), Gap shifted its normal “from” name to Gap Steals and Deals:

Tony_Holiday_2015_Trends_1
It’s tough to tell if I was part of a controlled test group or if this was intentional for all customers, as Gap is no stranger to trying out different “from” names.

  • Levi’s went straight for it with its “from” names – Levi’s Black Friday and Levi’s Cyber Monday – leaving no mystery as to the context of the email:

Tony_Holiday_2015_Trends_2

Email Sending Cadence

With overall email volume increasing, as previously noted, it became clear that some e-commerce retailers were leaning on quantity to catch their consumer’s eye in the inbox.

Discounting Levels

With in-store retail sales dropping about 11.9 percent year over year on Black Friday, it is becoming clear that consumers are less interested in limited quantity – literal “door-buster” deals – in favor of the comparison shopping and convenience offered to them online. Here are some of the more common discounting approaches we saw this year:

  • Many brands, including Timberland, Guess, Lowe’s, and UNIQLO used “Daily Deals” in the days leading up to the shopping holidays. This approach does well to keep consumers seeking out your offers day after day, but of course there is the concern that less eager shoppers may wait to see what big deal is next in the pipeline.
  • In general:
    • Clothing and apparel ran deals ranging from 30 percent to 50 percent off everything
    • Footwear came in a little more conservative with 15 percent to 30 percent off

While some chose to extend their Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers (maybe beyond their welcome), other retailers are presented with the challenge of peaking consumer interest on the heels of such deep discounts.

  • Many retailers seem to have found success by offering very comparable discount levels to their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but with higher consumer buy-in requirements to, you know, make you pay for procrastinating.
    • Levi’s – Get 50 percent off when you spend $250+, as compared to its Black Friday deal of 40 percent off (almost everything)
    • Footaction – Take 20 percent off orders of $99+, as compared to its Cyber Monday deal of 20 percent off site-wide
    • Banana Republic – Take 40 percent off orders of $200+, as compared to the same offer, no minimum on Cyber Monday
    • Converse, PF Flyers, and New Balance are just a few of those that extended their Cyber Monday deals through Tuesday.
    • Indochino and Clarks ran Cyber Monday deals all the way through Wednesday.
    • Plenty of retailers are still referencing Cyber Monday one week later: Old Navy, Banana Republic, Justice, and Sur La Table, to name a few.

Did you notice any trends from the weeks of Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Have any examples to share that relate to the trends noted above? Drop us a line in the comments and share your favorites. Oh, and If you’re entirely lost, perhaps you should start with our Holiday Planning Starter Kit.

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