Cyber Monday on track for record growth

MoneyIt’s Cyber Monday and servers are humming as shoppers head to their PCs, tablets and smartphones to find the best deals available. At ChannelAdvisor, we have a particularly good vantage point on the e-commerce trends that have emerged over the last five days, known as the “Cyber Five.” We’re able to take the aggregate data from our customers and, for benchmarking purposes, release same-store sales — essentially the best way to measure how a very large basket of online retailers are doing.

Historically, the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday has set the pace for the rest of the holiday shopping season. Last year, we processed more than half a million transactions on Cyber Monday for our retailers. From a same-store sales perspective, we’re already trending up 40 percent this year.

So, what have we seen from the holiday so far? First off, we’ve noticed the front-loading of the holiday season. Retailers have been gradually advancing their holiday promotions into early November. For the first time, we even saw a few “Black Friday in October” promotions. It appears to be working. Our retailers’ sales in November were up 28 percent over November 2010. As for the holiday season to date, we saw growth on all online channels, with most channels steadily increasing throughout the holiday weekend. In comparison, sales spiked on Thanksgiving and Black Friday last year and then dipped over the weekend only to spike again on Cyber Monday. This gradual climb (see chart below) suggests that Cyber Monday sales growth will continue on an accelerated pace.ChannelAdvisor Chart

Another trend we’re watching is growth across online channels. The channels we track include eBay (s EBAY), Amazon (s AMZN), comparison shopping engines (CSEs), paid search, and the total e-commerce sales across all these channels. As you can see in the chart above, Amazon completely ran away with sales Thursday through Sunday, only accelerating as the weekend went on. Here at ChannelAdvisor, we processed the highest amount of Amazon sales in company history on Saturday, even beating out Cyber Monday of 2010. We’re tracking the Amazon numbers today to see if we’ll set another record. As of noon ET, we are up 51 percent on Amazon.

Mobile commerce is another trend that has really made its mark this season, specifically with tablets. This is the first year we’ve tracked conversions on smartphones and tablets. With 10 percent of sales for our paid search customers, “couch commerce” was the big winner for Thanksgiving Day. Prior to Thanksgiving, 7 percent was the highest sales we’d seen in that area.

Purchases on tablets specifically accounted for nearly 8 percent of sales on Thanksgiving Day. On Black Friday, we saw a higher volume of sales through mobile devices than on Thanksgiving Day, which we’ve interpreted as an indication that more shoppers were using their smartphones to compare prices on the go and make mobile purchases.

The final trend we’re watching is overall macro growth of e-commerce this holiday season, especially with all the negative news headlines about the looming threat of the European debt crisis and increased unemployment rates. Despite this, we’ve predicted growth of 17 percent, with comScore and Forrester each forecasting 15 percent growth. As of the writing of this blog post, our customers’ e-commerce same-store sales started with 17 percent growth on Thanksgiving Day, followed by 20 percent growth on Black Friday, 21 percent growth on Saturday and 27 percent on Sunday — so we’re on the right track to hit that 17 percent mark.

Scot Wingo is the CEO of ChannelAdvisor, a software and services company that aims to help retailers reach customers through multiple marketplaces, paid search opportunities, and comparison shopping sites. More than 3,000 retailers use ChannelAdvisor’s software to manage e-commerce channels, such as paid search (Google (s GOOG), Yahoo! (s YHOO)), comparison shopping engines (PriceGrabber, NexTag,,, and marketplaces (eBay, Amazon).

Image courtesy of Flickr user 401K.