A weekly podcast with the latest e-commerce news and events. Episode 247 is recap of the Cyber Five (Black Friday through Cyber Monday) with Vivek Pandya, Senior Digital Insights Manager at Adobe.
Vivek Pandya is the Senior Digital Insights Manager at Adobe.
Data from Adobe, which uses Adobe Analytics to analyze one trillion visits and 100 million SKUs from 80 of the 100 largest retailers in the U.S., found that consumers spent a whopping $34.4 billion during this year’s Cyber Week, which represents a 20.7 percent year-over-year (YoY) increase. Unsurprisingly, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday represented the bulk of total spend over the five-day period.
We cover key trends, including changes to holiday behavior due to Covid-19, winners and losers, mobile trends, promotion trends, and omni-channel tactics.
Episode 247 of the Jason & Scot show was recorded live on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020.
[0:24] Welcome to the Jason and Scott show this is episode 247 being recorded on Tuesday December 1st 2020 I’m your host Jason retailgeek Goldberg and as usual I’m here with your co-host Scot Wingo.
Scot & Vivek:
[0:40] Hey Jason and welcome back Jason Scott show listeners well this is itsgotime this is the most exciting time of the year for everyone in retail e-commerce digital retail payments Commerce whatever we call this.
We’re sitting here it’s Tuesday after Cyber Monday and as usual Jason and I are going to dig into what happened over the Cyber five.
Turkey 5 or the newest name I saw this year was BF CM which I think stands for Black Friday Cyber Monday.
To walk us through some data we are really excited to welcome to the show the vet pandya pandya he is from Adobe where he is the senior digital insights manager the VAC welcome to the show.
Thanks very much for having me.
[1:24] We are thrilled to have you the veck we’re excited to jump into adobe’s Data but before we do can we always like to get a brief.
Sort of a snapshot of our guests background can you give us a little bit of insight into how you came to Adobe and what you do for Adobe.
Scot & Vivek:
[1:43] Sure sure so I’m its.
Try to give you the Abridged version for sure I kind of started in this sort of online space in a sort of digital marketing capacity and I worked with startups and technology companies
especially to kind of manage their campaigns and drive
try momentum there and I think working in Tech sometimes it’s like it’s it’s time dilation I think working in Tech because you then find yourself wanting to kind of explore other Industries because you’re very
fixated on tech companies and then so I found myself all of a sudden working for Gallo in working in the wine space and it was great to be in the sort of cpg industry and it also allowed me to kind of,
move out to California and so that that was absolutely
incredible and then I’ve always been someone who’s kind of drifted from this sort of digital marketing space to more into the data science world because you kind of go from generating
demand and leads and things like that to try to understand how you can Target and ensure that you’re getting the most qualified.
[2:59] Audiences to do what the organization needs to have happened so
then when I got more into this data space I found myself really enjoying visualizing data providing insights and
that’s what brought me to Adobe with Adobe Digital insights we’re very focused on providing
insights that can kind of size out the holiday season like we’ll be talking about and and provide insights across a lot of different topics so that’s essentially how made it to Adobe and how I’m working in this space.
[3:30] Awesome we’re glad you did and then as a reminder for our listeners about the Adobe data set you you are one of the Premier analytics packages that’s used by eCommerce sites
and you get to aggregate all the data from all the clients that use that analytics package and summarize that is that do I have that right.
Scot & Vivek:
[3:52] That’s exactly right so yeah we have.
80 of the top hundred online us retailers we have a trillion visit a hundreds and millions of products use so when you bring that all together you’re able to get some really interesting cool,
aggregate insights about the data history and how it’s changing.
[4:13] Cool it’s lesser start at the top maybe take us through what you guys saw over the last five days.
[4:20] So what we saw was in some ways what we were expecting and in other ways it kind of very but we essentially saw about a hundred six billion dollars drive-through from,
season today essentially from November
to where we are you know just post Cyber Monday and I know you guys have been following this in terms of how these Trends this early pricing how all that would kind of come into play and for us that was also.
Very important to size out and understand the trends and also the election was also something that happened in case you forgot and so that was that was an area that we were curious to see how that would
sort of interact with retail spending.
And so as we got closer into Thanksgiving week we saw about thirty four billion dollars kind of get realized over,
both Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday and some of the days in between so we were able to kind of chart and see some of the early spending,
that was kind of being kicked up a post-election and then we saw a lot of early surging before we got into Thanksgiving week and then we saw these these largely dominant days continue to stay dominant.
And you know we had.
Ten point eight billion dollars come yesterday on Cyber Monday so it’s been very interesting for us to see what things sort of panned out and which ones deviated for what we expected.
[5:50] Yeah and if we kind of look at your over your Trends if you look at that kind of I don’t know when you start but let’s say November first just to before Thanksgiving.
Um maybe maybe we looked at how that grew versus last year and then look at Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday what what did that look like from a year of your shorts.
So looking at you know we we had a sort of prediction of 33% for the season.
We that sort of initial prediction with how the week is gone with,
we’ve adjusted it a little bit to 30% but when we look at how this this particular period grew from November 1st to start on Monday that was right around 27% 27.7 so that’s that’s again.
Large chunk of growth coming in into the earlier month but we still anticipate some growth that gets us to our prediction for the entire season.
Yeah it seems like you guys in a lot of other data providers kind of agree that Cyber Monday was was a little bit of a,
I guess I’ll let down in that it grew significantly slower than that kind of Benchmark 30% is that you guys saw.
[7:01] It’s interesting because like the the momentum of Cyber Monday and it,
being the biggest day of the year is notable and it can’t be lost on us that it was able to still surge at ten point eight billion dollars but we when we look at
Cyber Monday Thanksgiving and even Black Friday.
What we what we see is them coming down into the sort of lower range of our estimates and we tribute a bit of that to some of the early surging that happened.
The weekend before Thanksgiving week because I know
with early discounts there was a lot of question like how will things look pretty level all throughout all the weeks and and we’ll Cyber Monday and Black Friday or they just not a thing.
[7:48] And what we saw was about 5 to 10% discounts coming into the month and that was enough to
drive a little bit of interest in purchasing but there was still a bit of slower growth happening because of the election and,
and people waiting for an outcome in announcement from the election.
And then once it once we had that outcome it started kind of falling back in line with our predictions and then the weekend before Thanksgiving week we saw the discounts go from
five to ten percent to 22
25% so that sort of that sort of increase and then a little more room to get down to 20 to 30 percent happen once we got into the,
Black Friday and Cyber Monday the day so
you end up seeing this how the story emerge of how some of that volume got a bit more distributed across the rest of the days.
[8:41] Got it and I’m not sure if you’re aware but two very handsome podcasters came up with this ship again and phrase do you think,
and I know this hard in the data but have you seen anything that that lends that that is the thing or that that may be caused some of this earlier activity.
Yeah I’m familiar with the phrase for sure it’s a it’s one of those things where I know it was real concern it’s a real concern I think it continues to be a concern and you guys were right to kind of call out that the
potential impact as you were modeling it out but it’s it’s one of those things where,
different size retailers have experienced different surges coming into this period so I imagine that some of that early weekend spending before they got into Thanksgiving.
Wheat probably is what they had intended to sort of mitigate this volume and that’s probably helped them Bank in more days.
And kind of distribute it more and again we talked about clicking collects and backs an area that’s also helping.
Helping manage this shipping see potential situation and what we saw there with it being up 52 percent on Black Friday year-over-year.
All that is helping and combination I think to sort of manage that situation but I think it potentially has.
[10:00] Even more impact getting into December and potentially being more of an issue there when.
There’s just this desire I think with with everything that’s happening November it’s been pretty compressed.
There’s an understanding that this counts are going to continue so then the question is how much will things pick back up and
drive up to new levels of growth as we get closer to Christmas and that’s where I think it could continue to be an issue because I ultimately think that
but for now they’ve been somewhat successful in managing that the volumes and they’ve learnt a lot from the earlier months of the pandemic.
And so I would say that it’s not they’re not completely out of the woods yet in terms of it being a significant thing that they have to manage but I think having their discounts situated and driving them down further,
before we got even into Thanksgiving was the right move.
[10:59] Interesting so if you look at it on the whole obviously that these big five Marquis days kind of slightly underperformed or at least where the bottom end of the the forecast is your hypothesis.
There’s less demand than you thought and therefore it sounds like you did downgrade your forecast slightly or do you feel like.
Just some of those sales got pulled in earlier and therefore the kind of Peaks are are leveling out.
Scot & Vivek:
[11:31] You know I definitely think there was a decent amount level of front loading and pulling in some of these discounting ‘s
earlier because that’s where we start to see the sort of levels of surging we saw on Sunday that that kind of really took us by surprise and then it but then we really also had a sense that,
Black Friday Cyber Monday Thanksgiving these would continue to be big days because from we also you know have our own survey research that we were asking.
Consumers about these days and.
They very much feel that yes we know there are discounts happening throughout the season but we definitely feel that we’re going to get the best pricing and best deal
on Black Friday and Cyber Monday so that kept us very much conscious of the fact that those could still be pretty strong and they were so it’s all the say,
apart on the Retailer’s to drive and move some of that momentum earlier but also that sort of tug and pull of the consumers being like well we have a little bit of tradition and inertia,
and a perception of these days and we’re planning on spending on them too so that all got to manage during this period.
[12:45] Got it and then I imagine to some extent some of the deceleration on these biggest days has to also just be the law of large numbers right like it it it gets increasingly hard to grow as fast as the numbers get bigger and bigger.
Scot & Vivek:
[13:00] That’s right it’s where we’re coming off of these bigger bases and they are especially when there is this real concerted effort to
kind of manage and mitigate the volume that comes through those days you’re going to see a that that sort of
that drive to step to another level percentage-wise is going to be tougher,
and then with these tactics being employed it’s going to it’s going to dull some of these Peaks a little bit but again it’s still that the consumers are you know in the driver’s seat here and,
and on their schedule is when things are happening so it’s really going to its that’s really why we saw some these big days still continue to be super strong.
[13:43] Yep and just to put things in perspective a little bit if I’m going from memory so correct me if I have this wrong but Cyber Monday last year was about like nine point four billion right.
Scot & Vivek:
[13:53] That’s right yep 9.4.
[13:54] And so at that point that would have been the biggest single-day of e-commerce sales in the US ever and then this year
we surpass 9.4 on Friday so I Black Friday actually set the new record and then we surpassed it even further yesterday right so we two days this year surpassed any day in the entire history of e-commerce in the US.
Scot & Vivek:
[14:18] So Cybermen assignment one day definitely so we’re not Black Friday was close it just got it nine billion so it was just a bit under but it was it was it was pretty
pretty significant in terms of getting to that scale and becoming in that way the second largest day at that.
Yeah and if I if I’m reading the data right Black Friday increased about called 22% with rounding and Cyber Monday was 15 so.
If that keeps up the lines will cross eventually right it’s yeah it’s one of those one of those areas where it’s like it’s.
It’s that scale and those percentages that can kind of.
Mitigate and manage to move it to this overall season percentage that will aiming for.
[15:04] Interesting how about art let’s peel the onion a bit and go into categories any any categories over form the models any any kind of underperformers.
So with Black Friday we saw different categories surging so Electronics and appliances and toys and then when we
[15:27] went deeper we would see things like board games and video games things that
are keeping people occupied and then when we were coming into the week we saw groceries kind of reach early pandemic Global because
it was probably both stocking up again because the case is rising and then people trying to do Thanksgiving meals but try to see if they could avoid going to the grocery stores.
[15:50] Anderson how about,
I’ve noticed since weren’t categories the seems like the the top sellers are the new consoles but there’s not enough Supply out there so.
Does that show up in the data there’s that one of the things driving Electronics.
It’s definitely a type of high demand product that has these inflection periods and and they are continued,
they’re moving in waves in terms of supply and
too quick you know uptick in people purchasing them so that moves pretty quickly the more consistent
ones that stay up is the video games the accessories and just the larger category takes a boost as a result of these two major console releases happening within the course of a week.
[16:39] I imagine also one of the things that’s a challenge for me and looking at this year’s data is I think the food thing really complicates matters because.
Historically there was very little food e-commerce like not very much grocery was online and so obviously as a result of the pandemic tons of people learned how to shop for groceries online and.
Many of those people may have done their weekly grocery shop over the Cyber 5.
It wasn’t necessarily tied to any holiday spending but that was a baseline of digital spending that didn’t exist in previous years in does exist this year and then to be honest it’s exacerbated.
Because so many restaurants are closed grocery spending is at an all-time high because they have a higher percentage of calories are coming from grocery store so that feels like.
That’s that’s an extra little undercurrent pushing some of these numbers up this year.
Scot & Vivek:
[17:32] Yeah I would agree with that that that does you know that that does kind of add in a sort of additive level of it
and what I would say is that we saw that the grocery surges were happening a little more before Thanksgiving week so while the magnitude was pretty high then it’s sort of trended back down as we got into the major days so it’s,
it’s definitely a factor but it definitely got more limited as the week kind of War.
and then let’s pivot to one of my favorite topics mobile so his one of the topics that we talk about a lot on the show is what I call the mobile Gap and it’s not specific to holiday but just this General premise that.
In increasingly high percentage of All Digital traffic is coming from mobile devices but in general the conversion rate on mobile devices is meaningfully less than it was on desktop devices and so you kind of have this Gap now
historically during holiday.
The conversion rate for mobile improved slightly and the percentage of traffic from mobile devices is even higher so with that background what did mobile look like for this holiday was there there any interesting Trends there.
Scot & Vivek:
[18:45] It really
lived up to our expectations because we had imagined about 37 to 40 percent of total e-commerce sales driving through smartphones.
And that’s exactly what happened when we saw about 41.1% drive-thru in in that period and
I would say it’s really kind of a testament to the retailers and what they’re trying to do in terms of frictionless payment and making
understanding that smartphones are the sort of dominant device even though people are in their home and you know you would imagine maybe laptop share would increase because
you know you can pull out your laptop and and really,
you know explore and have a larger navigation screen and things like that but it seems like the just a comfortability and the mobile first.
Kind of approach that consumers have taken really has soared through the year and continues to have an outsized impact when we look in the holiday season.
So pretty pretty staggering increase there for sure.
[19:53] Got it and it sounds like this mobile Gap I talk about still exists because you’re saying 41.1% of sales were mobile I’m assuming you’re going to tell me way more than half of all traffic was mobile.
Scot & Vivek:
[20:05] That’s right yes and what more visits I yeah and exactly some of these trends that you mentioning just these larger
order values for associated with laptops and desktops versus the small ones that I think those are just going to continue to incrementally we’re just going to have
have consumers just get more and more comfortable so they can continue to take up
versus just the sort of macro I’m ready to buy a massive you know High ticket item just quickly on the phone I think there’s a little more consideration there and some of those are still kind of being piped through on laptops.
[20:40] Interesting and then one thing that I’ve seen some conflicting data about I’d be curious if you have seen anything so traditionally there certain occasions that.
Increasingly be mobile right so the traffic you see the eCommerce sites on actual Thanksgiving on Thursday.
Tends to be disproportionately mobile and intuitively that makes sense right because people are at home with family and if they’re if they’re doing anything they’re jumping on their phone they’re not like excusing themselves from their guests and opening up a laptop.
But I’ve heard a hypothesis that this year because we’re all alone and we’re you know basically like the internet is our dominant form of entertainment that it actually.
Skewed things slightly more to desktop than we would ordinarily see and I’m curious if that if you guys see that Trend in the Adobe data set or.
Or have you can debunk that myth.
Scot & Vivek:
[21:37] Yeah I would say that we would we definitely saw that with Thanksgiving Day obviously experienced a lot of disruption in terms of this year and what what it could done but we still saw a strong level of volume and and mobile Commerce happening that that makes me think that
regardless of some of these Trends it’s just this bigger trend of.
People just being so comfortable with smartphones now that it’s not as as in
impervious or actually the opposite of impervious but it’s it’s not a it’s more resilient to some of these trends of we’re okay well now this is changed so now I’m going to go,
get a laptop or a desktop and get away from my phone I think we still saw a lot of momentum happening through smartphones on Thanksgiving day and it continued through Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
[22:30] Pickle the.
Do you guys have any so you mentioned that we kind of hit a promotional kind of peak around Black Friday and that got consumers really activated.
You guys track that in any kind of data oriented way that.
Another way of another thing I’m trying to get at is sometimes retailers will have a great sales Christmas but it will totally blow margin because to get the great sales Christmas they had to give away too much do you have any.
Any color on that.
I would say that for us you know we did we have this what we call our online pricing and decks that’s built into our larger digital economy initiative.
And so we’re tracking prices year-round we saw the big drops in apparel prices happen in in March and April and some of these things we can track in line with,
the CPI and at quite a frequent level of rapidity and then when we look at the holiday season prices,
we’re really tracking to see how much they’ll kind of stay down and again I mentioned this because we’ve been tracking them
all year round so we got to see what prices look like in October and I think there was this kind of rush to say okay.
[23:46] Prime days happening holiday season started right now and I would say that what we saw was certain retailers to draw you know saw a bit of a halo effect of.
Of prime Dade we saw prices come down within the range of five to ten percent but then they started to tick back up after we got out of the Prime day two days and then it kind of
against sort of slowly dropped.
And then as I mentioned on that Sunday coming into Thanksgiving week it just it took a much more significant drop and so,
when you think about it in those terms we imagine they’ll be
it’s sort of this weakening of the discounts kind of as the demand scales as we get closer to Christmas so it’s not to say oh it’s going to be this level of discounting.
All Season round so you know that the consumers have nothing to be concerned about in terms of pricing which is really important to them we essentially think that they were able this
kick into a different gear for discounts and it’ll start to scale up because ultimately they do want to preserve their margins and.
Long also providing good pricing and competitive options for consumers.
[25:03] Another topic that’s really interesting to me is the whole omni-channel aspect like we’ve talked a lot on the podcast about ship again and obviously and it seems it would seem to me one of the
the best ways to mitigate limited capacity from the shipping carriers is to sell the store inventory and have customers come and get it
via curbside pickup or click and collect or whatever the case is I know you guys are able to see the orders that are click and collect versus ship to home any industry interesting trends.
Around holiday utilization of curbside pickup.
Scot & Vivek:
[25:41] Absolutely so they are in a place where
test scaling this channel in a way where they’re able to even direct consumers we’re okay maybe but this may be the supply chain doesn’t support direct shipping so let’s let’s push them and think about curbside pickup quickly so we started to see.
Friday scale up bow piss or click and collect orders by 52 percent year-over-year it’s about 30% yesterday on Cyber Monday and what we expect is as.
The discounts weekend and we get closer into December and we’re we are in December sorry but as we get to Christmas.
There’s going to be this this focus on how do I get this product.
And get the best pricing and not get have my discounts completely nullified by my shipping costs so then they’ll be heavy utilization there so we we actually expect it to be the dominant,
mode of fulfillment about a week out from Christmas
so that it’s going to be a huge driver for these larger retailers as it has been this week in terms of helping them.
Absorb a lot of volume and say yes we have this product because and you just have to go pick it up.
[26:57] Cool one what kind of curveball here what what’s when you re looking at the data what just kind of jumped out at you as the biggest surprise.
I think what we were pretty struck by was just the level of.
The growth coming out of the main days while still maintaining a lot of volume coming out of the
earlier days because I think we were thinking about it in a little bit of binary terms which is its you know this all could be a little bit of you know.
Just just talk around okay it’s a it’s a cyber month
so you know everything you know I’ve seen black Fridays canceled its at certain places being written up and
what it was striking for us to see is know that they are they are holding holding their ground is as as tentpole days
but again on some of these other days the surging that was happening for for retailers who offer both Opus and,
who have who have made these inroads into early pricing and were able to deliver on some of that early pricing promise
they were able to scale on those days as well so you almost end up not with that sort of binary outcome but almost both Things become a little true so that was that was
it was it was really interesting for us to chart that.
[28:20] Very interesting you know one other question occurred to me.
Any insights about where what the big traffic sources were for for Holiday like I imagine there’s a lot more organic traffic on holiday than usual or a lot of traffic driven by email but I’m curious.
Like do we see a spike in Social we hear a lot about live streaming is that you know meaningful contributor what what’s bringing people to e-commerce websites for holiday.
Scot & Vivek:
[28:48] We’ve seen decent increases for social research for about a 17% increase for Cyber Monday and through Thanksgiving so
it’s one of those areas where it’s a category that we’ve seen traffic come through and we’ve always thought about how it operates as a channel for conversion versus awareness and then
fueling people to come through other modes so your
the organic search and paid search have definitely been drivers but then you the display efficiency right now is pretty staggering so that’s also been able to help,
I drive a lot of volume through for all these retailers.
[29:27] I’m glad to hear it.
We’ll listen to this has been a fascinating conversation but it has happened again we’ve run out of our allotted time for the special cyber five show I certainly appreciate you taking time out of what I know is one of your busiest days of the year to come talk with us.
As always if people have questions or comments they can feel free to leave us a note on Twitter or Facebook page.
And as always if you found value in the show we sure would love it if you jump on iTunes and give us that five star review.
Scot & Vivek:
[29:57] Thanks for your folks want to see your pontificate ins and data visualizations where should they go.
Absolutely thanks so much guys I really appreciate it and yeah I I’m pretty active on my LinkedIn
so if you just search Vivek pandya or Adobe on LinkedIn you should find me.
[30:21] We will put it in the show notes and thanks everyone for listening hope you had a wonderful holiday and until next time happy e-commercing.