A new study from interactive technology provider Atlas expects Mondays to remain the top online shopping day for the holidays, making that day as key to e-commerce as weekends are to offline store transactions.
This would be the third straight year that Monday has reigned as the biggest online shopping day for the holidays.
“People are shopping in stores and malls on the weekends, and they're extending that shopping experience when they get into work on Monday,” said Young-Bean Song, director of analytics and Atlas Institute at Atlas, Seattle. “They're looking for deals, they're comparison shopping and they're finding items that were out of stock in the stores.”
In its fifth year, Atlas' study this time anonymously analyzed holiday shopping behavior across 96 online retailers using the Atlas Suite.
The study found Monday, Dec. 12, is likely to generate the most e-commerce transactions this year, compared with Monday, Dec. 13, last year. Cost of shipping is the main reason. And it's no coincidence that consumer confidence in online shopping dips the week before Christmas.
“FedEx is expensive, so a bulk of the people will make their orders with standard shipping,” Song said, “which means that they need at least a week to have that confidence [that the item will be delivered in time].”
Atlas found a dichotomy between online shopping during the holidays and the rest of the year.
“It's actually the middle of the week that's most popular the rest of the year,” Song said, “but it switches around the holidays to Mondays. People are in the stores on the weekends, and they're fresh from the experience Monday, [and] especially at lunchtime you see sales volumes jump online.
“From a direct marketing standpoint, clicks on sponsored search listings correlate to this increased sales activity on Mondays at lunchtime,” he said.
Atlas suggests retailers and marketers communicate specifically to weekend shoppers on Mondays during the holidays. Product promotions in online advertising should mesh with similar efforts in the retailers' stores.
Second, retailers should target the workweek lunch hour. Atlas finds noon to 3 p.m. EST is when consumers tend to buy online. Retailers should tailor their daypart advertising messages toward sites that get a high concentration of the workweek audience.
Next, retailers should monitor paid search campaigns. Clicks on paid search keywords show a pattern similar to overall retail transactions. Atlas research shows that most clicks occur during the workday and workweek.
In fact, Mondays in December are the biggest days for search clicks: 12 percent higher than the average days, Atlas said. Of course, retailers should analyze their search results to ensure the increased click volume yields the right return on investment.
Finally, retailers should continue marketing in January as they do in December. The month after Christmas typically is strong in travel, but its importance to retail and e-commerce is growing, too.
“Last year was the first year we saw January sales volume match December,” Song said. “That's blowing away the myth that the holiday shopping season starts with Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas. January is a key part of the holiday season.”
Gift cards for difficult-to-shop-for customers as well as last-minute shoppers, plus returns, are driving this surge of e-commerce transactions in January. But not all sales are incremental.
“It's a redistribution,” Song said, “but it's great news for online because a lot of these dollars are being spent online. Everyone's looking for post-holiday ideas and for ways to create that same frenzy that occurs on Black Friday after Thanksgiving.”
Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters