Cyber Monday 2018 Is the New Day to Beat in Ecommerce

At least in the U.S., where consumers spent a record $7.9 billion

Online retail in the U.S. set a new sales record on Nov. 26. Getty Images
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

U.S. consumers spent $7.9 billion online on Cyber Monday 2018, officially making it the new reigning champ of U.S. ecommerce and topping the 2017 record of $6.6 billion by more than 19 percent.

According to Adobe Analytics, Americans spent 95 million hours shopping online on Monday. That works out to about 20 minutes a person.

Adobe found that 2.2 billion Cyber Monday transactions came from cellphones, marking a year-over-year increase of 55.6 percent. And as was the case on Black Friday, it was the first Cyber Monday that more than 50 percent of sales were from mobile devices. This accounted for 35.9 percent of revenue, a year-over-year increase of 18.3 percent. (On Black Friday, consumers racked up $2.1 billion in smartphone transactions.)

“What’s interesting here is how a shift to online shopping, even on Black Friday, which in past years has been marked an in-store retail holiday, is heralding a new era of holiday shopping and new behavior across the Thanksgiving weekend,” said Julie Van Ullen, general manager of growth in the Americas at marketing firm Rakuten Marketing. “Mobile is an important part of that shift, as consumers, more than ever, demand convenience and the ability to shop on the go.”

Adobe also found 65 percent year-over-year growth in consumers buying online and picking up in stores, with click-and-collect orders also up 73 percent from Thursday to Friday.

Adobe attributed this to shoppers “[continuing] to look for the convenience of click-and-collect” and retailers bridging offline and online experiences.

“Converting mobile traffic to sales has long been a thorn in the side of retailers, but investments in making the experience faster and easier have paid off,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of research unit Adobe Digital Insights.

Cyber Monday shoppers most frequently bought toys like Fingerlings, L.O.L Surprise and Little Live Pets; the video game console Nintendo Switch; electronics like laptops from Dell and Apple; and TVs from LG, according to Adobe’s research.

For its part, Amazon said Cyber Monday was again the “single biggest shopping day in the company’s history,” but it was coy with specifics. Best-selling Amazon products included the Echo Dot, an AncestryDNA testing kit, noise-cancelling headphones from Bose, Michelle Obama’s new book, the game Jenga and an Instant Pot. (Other major U.S. retailers have not yet released sales data.)

Amazon, which refers to Cyber Week as the Turkey 5, said customers ordered more than 180 million items during this period. Among the highlights it shared were that millions of Fire tablets and Echo and Kindle were devices sold worldwide, Whole Foods broke its record for Thanksgiving turkey sales, and Christmas lights were a best seller on Prime Now.

Adobe found the biggest sales drivers on Cyber Monday included direct website traffic (25.9 percent), followed by paid search (21.6 percent), organic search (21.1 percent) and email (25.9 percent). Organic search was the only driver that dropped year over year.

“To reach consumers in this new holiday shopping environment, it is critical that marketers sure up their strategies for reaching new customers, and re-engaging consumers across devices,” Van Ullen said. “We see that holiday shoppers are especially responsive to new brands during the holiday shopping season, so brands should be highly invested in prospecting and influencer strategies through the end of the year.”

But just as U.S. ecommerce was patting itself on the back, Alibaba took one last victory lap, reminding us it sold $9.7 billion in the first hour of Singles Day alone, including 1,600 tons of nuts, 38 million liters of dairy products, 400 tons of chocolate, 1.33 million bottles of cooking oil, 2.83 million cold water shrimp, 1.37 million steaks, 140,000 avocados, 1,650 tons of dog food and 1,050 tons of cat food, “or the equivalent of one year … of food for 90,000 dogs and 58,000 cats, respectively.”

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.