Seizing Cyber Monday: The Real, Real-time Opportunity


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Cyber Monday 2014 is projected to cap the highest five-day online sales period on record, when on-the-go, ever-connected consumers will be spending more than $2.6 billion, up 15 percent from last year, making Cyber Monday the largest online sales day of the year (Adobe Shopping Predictions). With Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday arriving so late this year there is an unusually condensed consumer crunch and stakes are higher than ever – it is critical that retailers satisfy frazzled, time-challenged consumers with lightning-fast, data-driven content and offers in order to successfully compete for 2014’s huge and fleeting holiday wallet.

Consumers will be moving at Mach speed to find the just-right gems on their lists, and patience will be at a minimum. According to a new independent research study, nearly half (47 percent) of consumers reveal that if they can’t find what they’re looking for quickly online they’ll move to another company’s site to find what they need (The State of the Customer Journey 2014). Retailers have to operate under the premise that any loyalty their brands have banked with customers will be out the window if they serve up slow pages, outdated cart notifications or haphazard search results.

How will brands hold their consumers’ short attention spans on Cyber Monday? A whopping 91 percent of consumers feel that an “in the moment” offer from a brand could influence their purchase (The State of the Customer Journey 2014). Clearly, real-time offers and messages have great powers of persuasion, especially if they are focused on what’s important to that particular consumer at that very moment. But recognizing the opportunities and capitalizing on them are two different things!

Real-time Challenges and Opportunities

Retailers, for the most part, can see the real-time opportunity coming their way this Cyber Monday. In fact, when asked where the greatest future business opportunity for real-time marketing now lies, more than a quarter identified real-time e-commerce journeys (The State of the Customer Journey 2014). These journeys are, however, easier to envision than to execute.


-Consumers are fickle and game the system:
o Consumers will seek deals with coupons or free shipping (Google Consumer Survey)
o 68 percent of online cart abandoners will sometimes, frequently or always use a promotion to return to an abandoned cart (Google Consumer Survey)
o Consumers have increasingly short attention spans (US National Library of Medicine) and shifting loyalties (The State of the Customer Journey 2014)

-Technical infrastructure is not in place to support real-time interactions:
o Inaccurate data can wreak havoc on marketing campaigns (Direct Marketing News). Irrelevant or dated offers that are no longer of interest to the consumer means retailers are spending money on obsolete campaigns and reminders when they may have already lost the sale to another channel that had the right offer at the right time. Perhaps even more costly in the long run, these consumers expect a seamless experience (54%) and can become frustrated by the lack of data continuity across platform (The State of the Customer Journey 2014).
o Misaligned data points don’t connect to provide actionable insight; unifying brand and message across different platforms is a challenge but critical to brand identity and continuity of the customer journey (Forrester, The Unified Company Experience Initiative).
o Predictive modeling capabilities are lacking; the ability to infer what the customer needs now based on past patterns is not a pervasive reality. Fluid and personalized real-time interaction looks effortless to the consumer, but few solutions have been able to proactively capture these opportunities.


-Get personal; know your consumer; let them know you know them:
o Your target consumer is arriving to work on Cyber Monday and logs into your site prepared to stealth shop under dire time constraints. Are you offering the type of buying experience they are looking for?
• Does your site know who they are? What they just looked at? Purchase history from last Cyber Monday?
• Are you providing meaningful content that responds to behavior instantaneously?
• Are you able to identify gaming behavior and system manipulation? Predictive analytics are key here. If you know that the customer is gaming the site, can you weigh the loss of the margin against potentially losing the sale and respond quickly before they bail?
• If a consumer has opted out of an offering or notification, are those preferences immediately integrated into their profile? Knowing what customers don’t want to waste time on is as valuable as knowing what they care about.

-Synchronize online channels to anticipate need:
o Foresight is not 20/20, but it can come close.
• Was the consumer looking at a product on social media? Can you greet her with a competitive price or a promo code for that product when she visits your website? Synchronize online channels and pick the conversation back up with an offer that optimizes their time.
• Can you use what you know about your customer to make better decisions about the brand experiences you offer? Look at trends in customer behavior and use that intelligence to support your customer on his buying journey in an intelligent and comprehensive way. What are customers with similar patterns and purchases buying next?
• Are you tracking in-store visits with social and online behavior? Many marketing analysts believe that the total customer experience, where virtual and physical worlds collide, is the future of marketing and brand promotion. If Jane Smith was browsing a jacket online a few months ago, and didn’t buy it when she came to your store last week, could you offer her a unique deal on that same jacket on Cyber Monday to recognize her as an individual?

-Convenience is the final word in guaranteeing repeat business, online and off:
• We live in one connected world; webrooming and showrooming are new words in the marketing lexicon that support the notion that online vs. in-store doesn’t matter to customers as much as price and convenience. Remember, Cyber Monday will be a massive day for sales, but also an opportunity for customers to browse online while also checking out the physical item in-store before purchasing it in-store.
• Ensure your digital properties are set up to offer customers the type of buying experience they are seeking. As mobile browsing is expected to account for 20% of sales, (The State of the Customer Journey 2014), keep in mind the limits of phone and tablet screen real estate for ease of browsing, and optimize your site for speed and volume so that real-time interaction can proactively guide and make smart recommendations.

Cyber Monday is here, and the competition this year is higher than ever given the compressed timeframe and anticipated growth in sales. New customer expectations and behaviors have elevated the challenge for retailers. Brands that can truly deliver what customers need, when they need it, with real-time precision, are poised to come out on top.

And back to you—which brands do you think are ready to meet the real-time demands of Cyber Monday?

Jeff Nicholson
JEFFREY NICHOLSON (Boston, MA) Jeff is a CRM and AI industry veteran, possessing more than 20 years of expertise, in helping shape SaaS technologies, consumer trends and markets. Recognized as an industry thought leader and visionary, Jeff’s viewpoints and perspectives have been featured in magazines and outlets including AdAge, ChiefMarketer, CRM Magazine,, The Economist and Forbes. Jeff is a frequent presenter at industry events across the globe on topics including consumer engagement, customer journey, artificial intelligence, digital transformation and customer data trends.


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