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Cyber Monday

I was surprised to find that the traffic always peaks on Monday morning, when I was working at an online company. I shared my wonder with others and the reason, as my boss said, may be that people need time to get their mind back from relaxed weekends so they go online.

And I find the same phenomenon appears in my shopping experience. I routinely visit Hautlook.com and Ruelala.com every morning to hunt for discounted designer brands. But every Monday, I must log myself in before 11:00, when the sales start, and anxiously grab anything I can get once the sales are on, because I know that even slightly good stuff will be gone extremely fast on Monday. Why? I do not know.

This Thanksgiving shopping experience is even more impressive. I did not expect a large amount people go online shopping on Thanksgiving. Who would not go home and enjoy a relaxed vacation with their family? I think it’s reasonable to assume that 90% people get up after 10:00AM and go to something unusual for the holiday or go to mall to celebrate Black Friday. But I was wrong. When I opened the sales website at 1:00 pm on Nov.26, most of the good deals are gone and my “competitors” are still there! Is it a reason that the malls are not busy as before? We are in cyber age in all aspects.

And marketers know it. Big brands/companies like Apple, Bodyshop, A/X, Sony, Amazon all put out their Thanksgiving special sales online and most of them are online exclusive. I read a article on WSJ saying that “Despite the expected pickup in traffic, Cyber Monday’s importance itself has waned as online retailers, led by Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), joined other companies in the rush to begin holiday sales early to compete for the dollars of more-discerning consumers.” This article, Online Retailers Shares Rise On Cyber Monday, shows several significant figures:

Cyber Monday gave an early boost to shares of Amazon, which were up nearly 2% and hit a record intraday high of $135.25. Shares of eBay Inc. (EBAY) rose even higher by 3.4%.

Meanwhile, shares of traditional retailers, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Best Buy Co. (BBY), were down fractionally.

Nearly 100 million Americans are expected to shop online on Monday, up from 85 million last year, the National Retail Federation said, citing a survey by Shop.org.

Online-payment processor PayPal said the official start to the 2009 holiday-shopping season started online on Nov. 16, when it saw a 28% increase in payment volume. On Black Friday, PayPal saw 20% more transactions than in 2008.

What’s the effects then? We are apparently marching further in the Cyber age. But the  beginning tide is hard to judge as positive. The primary reason of the cyber shopping trend is its lower price. It is okay if it’s based on the lower cost in storage and distribution, but it is not good if it involves into a price battle. Retailers are competing on the price to attract customers. Amazon was forced to respond to Wal-Mart’s moves to cut prices on highly anticipated book titles and DVDs in October and November. Now Wal-Mart’s Web site has posted Cyber Week online specials to offer even “tasty” deals. In this case, the online traffic is actually grabbing customers away from the retail stores. Brands need to be careful of the promising online sales. Who are the people purchasing online? Are those previously the customers in your stores?

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