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Clicks Hit The Bricks: 6 Ways Brick-And- Mortar Is Stealing Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is no longer the competitor to traditional retail that it was 10 years ago. This year, Cabela’s, Macy’s, Walmart and many others are using the post-Thanksgiving event to promote specials not merely online, but across all channels, all season long. 


 

Now available on Cyber Monday! A new meaning to Thanksgiving leftovers.

A decade after it was first recognized as a retail event, Cyber Monday is projected to generate $3 billion in sales this year. But don’t expect all, or even most, of those sales will be directed solely to cyber-registers. While originally considered a threat to traditional retail, Cyber Monday’s post-Thanksgiving billions are increasingly being spent with traditional retailers as they seek new ways to clear leftover goods from the shelves.

CyberMondayButtonMerchants from Cabela’s and Walmart to Macy’s and Express are using this Monday after Thanksgiving to promote specials – not just on Nov. 30 but also for the entire season, and across all channels. The trend signifies traditional retail’s ability not only to rise to the occasion of digital competition, but in some cases to match or outperform the competition (as in the case of Cyber Sunday; more on that to follow).

And none too soon. Traditional brick-and-mortar sales registered $1 billion shy of 2014’s total – falling to $10.4 billion from $11.6 billion, according to ShopperTrak. The decline is attributed in part to extended Cyber Monday promotions, which began early and lengthened the one-day event into a full Cyber Week. The early results: Year-over-year online sales on Black Friday, the day earmarked for physical sales, advanced 14 percent to $2.7 billion.

A review of some of the promotional events illustrates how creative and unconventional traditional retailers can be, especially when another source hangs the door to the opportunity. Not all efforts will float in this parade of initiatives, however – some are simply promotional ads on what feel like refurbished landing pages.

Rather, the retail endeavors that will prove themselves this Cyber Monday, and season, are those that treat the promotions as side dishes to a main course of memorable events.

Founded By Retailers, For Retailers

Before exploring how traditional retail is leveraging Cyber Monday, it is helpful to understand the effect the retail holiday has had on the industry, as well as its surprising origins.

Though considered by many as an initial threat to brick-and-mortar retail, Cyber Monday was founded by one of retail’s largest trade organizations, the National Retail Federation. More specifically, a branch of the NRF that serves online retailers, called Shop.org, coined the day.

At the time, Shop.org reported that 77 percent of online retailers saw an uptick in sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving, many of them smaller merchants that tended to get lost in the noise of Black Friday. Once the day was given a name in 2005, Cyber Monday sales rose 26 percent, to $486 million.

By 2010, Cyber Monday grew into the biggest online shopping day of the year, according to The Washington Post.

Since then, the exponential growth of smartphone and tablet use has made online purchasing a do-anywhere, anytime endeavor, and sales are expected to scale accordingly. The record-breaking $3 billion figure projected this year, by Adobe, represents a 12 percent advance over 2014. The share of orders coming in via smartphones also is expected to reach an all-time high.

Virtually Traditional: Cabela’s, Walmart, Macy’s

This dynamic change in how we shop has enabled traditional retailers, using both in-store and digital data and other resources, to identify shopping behaviors and preferences that are likely informing their Cyber Monday strategies. Among the initiatives:

Walmart: The world’s largest retailer has borrowed from the start-Black-Friday-a-day-early book and kicked off Cyber Monday on Sunday night, creating Cyber Sunday. The deals began at 8 p.m. Sunday evening and kicked off a “Cyber Week” that will extend to Dec. 4. Why wait until Monday? The ubiquitous presence of online access convinced Walmart there is no reason to, Walmart.com CEO Fernando Madeira told USA TODAY.

Cabela’s: The destination outdoor-gear chain has limited physical operations, so Cyber Monday serves as a useful method for reaching outdoor enthusiasts who may be out of driving range. To this end, Cabela’s joined Walmart and others that have lengthened Cyber Monday into Cyber Week, with extended sales and selected markdowns. It also is using the promotion, like several other retailers, as an opportunity to encourage shoppers to sign up for texted offers and emails, enabling it to access more shopper data.

Macy’s: Using a feature recently unveiled by Facebook, Macy’s is targeting its social advertisements toward shoppers who interact with its Cyber Monday content. The ads refer followers to segmented videos on Instagram that reveal snippets of a larger story. “You can tell a piece of the story and then target that customer who engaged with that first ad unit with another element of the story later in the day,” Serena Potter, group vice president of digital media strategy at Macy’s, told Adweek.

Express: The specialty women’s fashion chain set up a dedicated web page to promote Cyber Monday deals while also encouraging shoppers to save every day. Included on the page is a call to register via mobile for special deals and a chance to win a trip for three to New York, effectively folding a memorable (and highly social) brand event into its promotion.

Target: The mass-merchandise chain for the first time is discounting every single item on its website, by 15 percent, and other deals will be available all week. It also is featuring 75 virtual door-busters. To harvest early enthusiasm, Target too established a page dedicated to Cyber Monday, which also links to everyday deals, coupons and its weekly ads that encourage shoppers to shop today, next week and after.

Bon-Ton Stores: In an earnings call with investors on Nov. 19, Bon-Ton Stores CEO Kathryn Bufano said the 270-location department store chain is adding resources to enhance its Cyber Monday sales, particularly among its family and friend promotions. “We have lot more offerings, and we’ve increased our digital marketing around that event, which we think will have a positive impact,” she said. Bufano added that 70 percent of Bon-Ton’s customers search its website before coming into its stores, and she expects the number to grow.

Some may consider traditional retail’s enthusiastic embrace of Cyber Monday as late in the game, but it is the quality of the endeavors that matters. The goal is to move product into the hands of emotionally satisfied buyers. If they are happy enough, they will come back for seconds.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com, where Bryan serves as a retail contributor. You can view the original story here.

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