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What to expect for this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Last year during holidays, US online sales surpassed $122 billion. This represented a 12 percent increase over the previous year. But beyond the overall growth, what's more interesting is that sales at physical stores dropped by 10 percent, the result of ongoing consumer comfort with and adoption of e-commerce buying behavior. Given the performance of holidays so far this year, it seems clear that this trend will continue in 2017. As a result, retailers are stocking fewer items in stores to reduce inventory costs and are hiring fewer seasonal workers as they anticipate lower foot traffic to stores.

 

With the Black Friday, Cyber Monday holiday weekend upon us, retailers in the U.S. and abroad are preparing for another peak period for customer acquisition and commerce revenues.  In 2016, the U.S. eCommerce market is the second largest globally and is expected to reach a total of $482 billion by 2018.  China is still the global leader with its B2C eCommerce market accounting for 38% of worldwide turnover; this Singles' Day, November 11th, 2016, Alibaba's success highlighted the region's potential turning over $17.8 billion in sales in one day (and $1 billion in just the first five minutes), surpassing last year's record of $14.3 billion record by 24%.

The 2015 holiday shopping period lifted off with a bang, setting revenue records for the Thanksgiving weekend and indicating strong revenue trends for the holiday season.

Data from Akamai Retail Net Usage Index, a tool which monitors the company's retail customers' real-time website traffic in page views per minute, supported this trend, as the average page views per minute over the five-days was nearly 70 percent above the baseline.  In North America the highest spike was on Black Friday, a 109 percent increase, as people sought to avoid lines at the store and the general chaos associated with "traditional" Black Friday shopping. Thanksgiving day was a close second at an 80 percent increase over baseline. As digital takes more and more share from in-store shopping, industry research indicates that digital shopping activity will be spread out more evenly across the weekend and the entire holiday period. This better accommodates the family focused nature of the weekend, while still catering to shoppers' desire to find bargains.

Two weeks ago key players in the travel industry gathered from around the world to discover, debate and capitalize on the latest trends and opportunities in travel at the PhocusWright Conference in Fort Lauderdale. One of the hottest topics on the agenda was how to improve the travelers' experience from booking to actually traveling - and how important mobile is to that process. While mobile devices generate 25 percent of the transactions for the travel industry, that actually lags behind other retail verticals for mobile device sales.

Earlier you had to choose, should you personalize or cache everything... we wanted to do both. -- Fredrik Ahlen (CTO)

The business decision had been made. Fredrik Ahlen (CTO) and Patrik Wallin (Lead Developer) of Health & Sports Nutrition Group (Gymgrossisten) were going to undergo a personalization overhaul to increase conversion rates. This meant personalizing nearly everything -- category pages, product pages, product recommendations and more. It was up to Fredrik and Patrik to make this happen on a site running on an e-commerce platform long past it's lifetime and offering poor website performance, poor stability, and limited personalization.

Retailers can look back on the start of this holiday season and breath a sigh of relief that all signs point to another strong holiday season. According to figures released by Adobe, Cyber Monday closed with $3.07 billion in sales setting a new single day sales record. Black Friday also set records and marked the highest spike over the five-day shopping weekend with a 109 percent jump in traffic, according to Akamai's Net Usage Index.*

2015 Holiday Shopping Predictions for Retailers

We're gearing up for some of the busiest days of the holiday season and that means we're starting to make some predictions around consumer shopping behavior and what retailers can expect to see this year. 

Last year around this same time, we saw an early start to the shopping season, evidenced by an uptick in activity starting as early as Nov. 2. The latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker supports this prediction, stating that just under 45 percent of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday and another 47 percent say they will shop on Cyber Monday. Similarly, Research from the National Retail Federation (NRF) affirms that in 2014 the estimated number of Cyber Monday shoppers was 127 million, with the number of people who shopped on Black Friday at 87 million.

Being truly 'ready' for the holidays means different things to different people and organizations. For consumers, it is getting your house decorated, shopping done and enjoying time with both family and friends. For online retailers, it is finalizing deals, ensuring your website can handle the substantial increase in inbound traffic and of course, the elephant in the metaphorical room, web security and its importance in maintaining a positive brand reputation.

Protect Your Site From Hacking and Fraud During the Holidays

"The threat posed by distributed DoS [DDoS] and web application attacks continues to grow each quarter," said John Summers, vice president for Akamai's cloud security business sector. Malicious actors are continually changing the game by switching tactics, seeking out new vulnerabilities and even bringing back old techniques that were considered outdated.

The traffic on the Internet increased during the 2014 holiday season, so did the number of all types of attack traffic (including application-layer attacks and volumetric, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks) reported the Akamai's Threat Advisory.  Many attackers mask themselves in a sea of "good" online traffic by using proxy addresses that enable them to browse the web anonymously and without geographic origin. Most of these volumetric attacks originate from Bots, software applications that run automated tasks over the Internet.

Making Mobile Matter this Holiday Season


It's evident that mobile has become the go-to shopping method for most consumers. In fact, they are continuing to browse and buy from multiple networks, making the mobile shopping experience more important than ever. With smartphone subscriptions projected to increase by an average of 15 percent a year - reaching six billion by 2020, [Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2015] it's no question that mobile has become an important consideration for retailers. Today's consumers use their smartphones throughout the shopping experience, so retailers must take into consideration these growth statistics to prepare for the holiday rush, which is just around the corner! 

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