A Whole Month of (Cyber) Mondays

Don’t believe the hype about Cyber Monday. Sure, the first fully operational business day after Thanksgiving in the United States is expected to be a huge day for online retailers. But there’s more to the story than single-day receipts.

When the term Cyber Monday first came into currency just six years ago, the Internet and the world of e-commerce were vastly different places. For starters, Cyber Monday is no longer just at the office. The phenomenon started at a time when relatively few of us had true high-speed Internet access, and almost all of those who did had it at only the office. By the time home DSL and cable modems became more widely adopted, Cyber Monday already was an institution embraced by retailers and accompanied by discounts and promotions that consumers expected and even demanded.

However, our online lives are no longer connected by a wire. With hundreds of millions of smartphones in use worldwide, e-commerce is not dependent on the combination of office hours and time-when-the-boss-isn’t-looking moments. We’re online practically 24/7. I can shop while I’m in the carpool drop-off line. You can compare prices sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. Anybody can order the latest 50-inch plasma TV while riding on an elevator. I can even explain to my wife why we need that.

In short: Cyber Monday is predicted to be a big wave, but it’s just a part of the rising tide.

These always-on consumers throughout the world are likely to be doing their cybershopping whenever and wherever it suits them. In fact, the use of mobile devices can enhance traditional retail. As Black Friday shoppers use their smartphones to confirm store hours and in-store specials, they’re effectively expanding the “one-day event” backwards through the weekend.

They’ll use their bar code readers to compare prices and make sure they’re looking at the latest models. While checking in with their geolocation app, they’ll be influenced by the shopping decisions and suggestions of their friends. And as they stand in line at the checkout, many are certain to double-check that big online store one last time to see if their goods are available with free shipping.

What this means to marketers, whether their brands ultimately are dependent on straight e-commerce or not, is that the store, the company site and all associated social media channels need to be optimized for mobile browsers. Your mobile apps must be up to date. Most critical is that your offers, your specials and your promotions have to be easy to find and understand in the context of a four-inch handheld screen.

Get ready for 30 Cyber Mondays in a row.

 

by Frank Garamy
Vice President, Technical Planning

 

Cross-posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network