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Dashing Thru the Data Analysis: Last Rush Before Christmas, Orders up 51%
By Will Devlin
12/20/2013 8:07:00 AM  

As we enter the last weekend before Christmas, retailers are seeing a strong final push from consumers looking to skip the big lines in stores. This season, order volume has been up 14% overall, but this week (thru Wednesday) is up an impressive 51% vs. 2012.



(10/27 -12/18/2013)


The last big shopping day online was “Free Shipping Day” (12/18/2013), in which participating retailers (and there are a lot of them) offer free ground shipping and guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Compared to last year, Free Shipping Day (12/17/2012) order volume fell 24%, although average order size was up 4%.

As to how consumers are arriving at retail websites this season, we’re still seeing huge gains in the tablet and mobile space (combined, they account for 38% of all traffic). Online businesses without a good mobile web experience are likely missing out on additional revenue. Credit cards are still the preferred way to pay for ¾ of online shoppers, but PayPal accounts for 15% (higher on mobile devices). 

To check out our most recent holiday shopping data, please visit our Dashing Thru the Data Dashboard

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Dashing Thru the Data Analysis: Order Volume up 14% this Holiday Season
By Will Devlin
12/12/2013 10:37:00 AM  

Total order volume is up 14% this holiday season over 2012 according to our latest stats on the Dashing Thru the Data dashboard. Most of the biggest online shopping days are now behind us, so this is great news for retailers who have navigated a shopping season that’s 6 days shorter than last year.

Last week, Cyber Monday sales were up 25%, capping off an impressive Thanksgiving Weekend that finished up 26%. Average order values over that weekend were up 7%, and total items sold were up 33%. 

Green Monday, which is typically the 2nd Monday in December and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, finished up 7% over 2012. Conversion rates are also up 12% overall to an impressive 5.4%. The rest of this week and next week will close out the shopping before Christmas, especially for online retailers, although next Wednesday is Free Shipping Day, something that’s gained popularity over the past few years.


NOTE: If you’ve followed our dashboard this season, you may have noticed that a few of our metrics and charts changed this past week. To stay in line with methodology used by other data sources this holiday season, we’ve changed from a cumulative total analysis to a percentage lift where every client is given equal weight, making our numbers more accurate in terms of how all of our retailers are truly doing.

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Tags: merrydata, influence & impact, holiday data, research
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Dashing Thru the Data Analysis: Cyber Monday orders down 3%; Weekend Recap
By Will Devlin
12/4/2013 6:10:00 AM  

Cyber Monday capped off a long weekend of shopping for many, and while Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined for some encouraging news for online retailers, Cyber Monday order totals were down 3% vs. last year, and the 5-day period was down 5% compared to that same stretch last year (which, as we’ve covered, was almost a full week earlier in 2012).

Traffic was higher on Cyber Monday but down 6% overall, and conversion rates were up 3% to an impressive 5.4%.

The data we’re seeing is a bit different than other reports around the web. IBM said in a statement that web sales yesterday rose a whopping 21% compared to 2012, and ComScore said online spending increased 15% on Black Friday (we saw a 3% dip on that day as well).

One thing everyone is agreeing on, and we discussed it yesterday, is that mobile traffic is exploding this year and retailers who are catering to the smartphone and tablet crowd are benefiting the most this season. Keep an eye on our Dashing Thru the Data dashboard as we update it later in the week and again next Tuesday, and follow #merrydata on Twitter for the latest insights.

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Dashing Thru the Data Analysis: Big Thanksgiving for Online Retailers
By Will Devlin
12/2/2013 6:25:00 PM  

(This analysis is based off updated metrics from our Dashing Thru the Data dashboard, where we track online shopping trends this holiday season.)

The unofficial kick-off to the holiday shopping season has traditionally been Black Friday, but in recent years, some retailers have made news by opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. This, along with some stores offering “Black Friday Deals” several weeks before the big day, may be changing the mindset among many shoppers in making Thanksgiving the “start date” for holiday shopping.

While the web is always open, online shoppers typically wait until the deals hit each year before doing the bulk of their buying. With stores opening on Thanksgiving, deals are hitting earlier each year, and this year was no exception as online retailers on our platform saw a nice boost vs. 2012.

Thanksgiving Day orders up 10%, Black Friday down slightly

Last week, we talked about the challenges of comparing year over year shopping data for our retailers since the 2012 holiday shopping “season” was the longest possible, and 2013 ends up being the complete opposite, with 6 fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Before last Thursday, it was hard to really predict how things were going to progress because last year’s data included numbers recorded when holiday shopping was in full swing. Retailers this year have fewer days to get shoppers to buy from them (in a down economy, no less), so discounts and promotions will likely be earlier and bigger than they’ve been the past few years.

Our retail clients saw a 10% increase in orders on Thanksgiving Day this year vs. 2012. Even though average order value is down about 15% so far this season due to the discounting, that’s a nice start to the online rush.

We usually think of Black Friday as being a big day for brick-and-mortar retail, but there’s historically been a spike for online retailers as well. Our retail clients saw a 3% decline in orders vs. last year on Friday, but with the big Thanksgiving Day most had, some of those sales just happened earlier. Orders were up 1% for both days combined.


Big increase in traffic from tablets and mobile devices

Another trend we’re keeping an eye on is tablet and mobile device usage. Last year at this point in Q4, almost ¾ of shoppers visited retail sites via desktop. That’s changed dramatically:

Tablets account for 19% of traffic so far this year, while 20% of visits are coming from a mobile device, although their experience will be greatly influenced by whether the retailer has a mobile-friendly site or not. Here’s a look at the percentages of orders by device:

It’s hard to decipher the intent of a mobile user, however; they could be shopping or they could be looking for information about physical store locations or upcoming sales. Most retailers do not present a mobile site for tablet users, although some do serve up tablet-optimized sites instead of the full desktop experience.


Biggest online shopping days still ahead

We think of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as being the biggest shopping days of the year, but for most retailers, the biggest days in terms of volume are still ahead. Some key dates to watch coming up:

  • Mon, December 9 – “Green Monday”. Coined by eBay in 2007, the 2nd Monday in December is typically the month’s busiest shopping day. The popularity has more to do with timing than promotions/deals from retailers though.
  • Mon, December 16 – This day might not have a catchy name, but it’s typically a huge day for holiday shopping as packages shipped ground are still likely to arrive on time. Sundays and Mondays are usually big shopping days online, and this will be the last Monday to comfortably shop online before Christmas.
  • Wed, December 18 – “Free Shipping Day”. Thousands of retailers have jumped on this bandwagon in recent years, offering free shipping and guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery for orders placed on that day.
  • Fri-Sat, December 20-21 – “Super Friday/Saturday”. Procrastinators and last-minute deal seekers will be out in full force on the final weekend before Christmas. For online retail, Friday is likely going to be the last big day before Santa arrives, as expedited shipping options will still allow for packages to arrive on time.

Keep an eye on our blog and the Dashing Thru the Data dashboard over the next few weeks for more updates and analysis! Or you can follow our updates on Twitter via #merrydata

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Dashing Thru the Data, Nov 23 Analysis: “26 vs. 32 Days to Shop”
By Will Devlin
11/27/2013 10:17:00 AM  

There’s been a lot of chatter around the web over the latest update to ShopVisible’s “Dashing Thru the Data” dashboard, where we present a few high level metrics from more than 70 sites to capture online shopping trends this holiday season. At first glance, the numbers look pretty gloomy - vs. the same period in 2012:

  • Traffic and order volume are down 20%
  • Average order size is down 15%
  • Conversion rates are down 1%

On the surface, it appears we’re in for a rather disappointing holiday season online. But even though we’re looking at the same dates year over year, it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison.

26 vs. 32 Days to Shop This Holiday Season

We’re all aware that the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, unofficially kicks off the holiday shopping season. Retailers have been able to create an enormous amount of hype over the years, offering can’t-miss deals to shoppers willing to stand in enormous lines in the wee hours of the morning on the day after they’ve given thanks for all they have. And while we’ve seen the controversial trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day pop up over the past few years, most shoppers view Black Friday as the start of the holiday shopping season.

Since 1941, Thanksgiving has officially fallen on the fourth Thursday in November. In 2012, it fell on the earliest potential date, November 22, giving shoppers 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, giving us the longest holiday shopping season possible. This year is the other extreme – Thanksgiving falls on the latest potential date (November 28), meaning there’s only 26 days to shop before Christmas.

Note: Above shows where Thanksgiving  fell in 2012 versus 2013

As we examine the metrics on the Dashing Thru the Data dashboard, we have to keep in mind that the latest update includes the week of Thanksgiving for 2012 as compared to the week before Thanksgiving in 2013. While we traditionally think of Cyber Monday as the big online kick-off, web traffic and sales usually start building Thanksgiving week. 

The Week Before Thanksgiving

Looking specifically at the week before Thanksgiving might give us a more realistic picture of how the online shopping season might end up. In 2012, that would be the week ending in 11/17, where this year it’s the week ending 11/23:

  • Average Weekly Traffic down 8%
  • Average Weekly Transactions down 11%
  • Average Order Value down 5%
  • Conversion down 3%

While it may still be discouraging for retailers to see the numbers below last year, it’s certainly an improvement over the comparison by date.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we comment on our weekly updates to the Dashing Thru The Data dashboard via ShopVisible’s Commerce Insights blog.  And follow us with #merrydata on Twitter as we progress into the busiest time of year for eCommerce.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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