5 Cyber Monday predictions

The Black Friday weekend — all four days of it — is the run up to Cyber Monday and its accompanying Web traffic, inventory and fulfillment issues. FierceRetailIT has identified five trends to watch ahead of the busiest online shopping day and the fulfillment it requires.

Cyber Monday has not outlived its usefulness. The ubiquity of shopping whenever, wherever we like has not kept retailers from launching deals that consumers still respond to. Sales that day are expected to hit $2.6 billion, according to Adobe.

Look out for Cyber Tuesday. Cyber Monday may not actually be the biggest shopping day of the year. Experian predicts strong sales on Tuesday Dec. 2, as well, thanks to a shorter shopping period. Shopping traffic and revenue peaks between 8 a.m. and noon on both Cyber Monday and the day after, making email messages more impactful during those times, according to Experian.

Fulfillment will still cause problems. Retailers expect to reduce the number of late orders to just 8 percent this year, according to a report by Kurt Salmon, roughly half that of 2013. And while 8 percent is an improvement, leaving 8 percent of your customers without holiday items is ill advised. Retailers should be proactive, closely monitor traffic, utilize alternative delivery options where available and when all else fails, be honest with customers about longer delivery times.

Out of stocks will worsen. Missed deliveries may be less of a problem this year, but more items will be out of stock. Adobe predicts there will be five times more out-of-stock messages on Cyber Monday compared to prior years.

Click-and-collect gains. Shoppers are more likely to buy online and pick up in stores this year. Good news for stores that get the foot traffic, but it could also present some unique fulfillment issues, according to Oliver Guy, retail industry director for Software AG. "Buy online and pick up in-store is so popular now, it's having a significant impact on store operations," said Guy. "In order to capitalize on this trend, retailers need to ensure that their execution is flawless and goods are available when they say they will be."

Mobile is the wild card. Shoppers will utilize mobile devices this year more than ever with one estimate that 40 percent of all retail transactions from Black Friday to Cyber Monday will come from smartphones and tablets, according to Iovation. Having a mobile-ready site or dedicated app will keep retailer from losing out on this traffic.

For more:
-See this Experian report
-See this Kurt Salmon press release
-See this Iovation press release

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