When is Cyber Monday 2013 and what exactly is Cyber Monday anyway?

Q: When is Cyber Monday 2013:

A: This year (2013) Cyber Monday is expected to be Monday December 2nd.

Q: What is Cyber Monday?

A:

It’s the first Monday after most people have been paid at the end of November and as we tip over into December people suddenly with some cash panic into placing orders for Christmas presents online.  It is therefore the peak day in the year for placing online orders.  In 2012 many retailers actually reported that there was less of a peak on the Monday and the it was just a peak week.  It’s thought this was due to consumers generally having more faith and confidence now in online deliveries than in previous year.

People are always advised to order as early as possible in December to make sure they can get what they want.  In previous years we’ve seen deliveries from the online retailers badly affected during the run up to Christmas by postal strikes and bad weather, so it pays to allow plenty of time for deliveries. For the last few years we’ve also seen online retailers running out of stock as it gets nearer to Christmas this is because during a downturn in the economy no one can really afford to be left holding surplus stock that they then have to sell at low margins or even at a loss in January. Finally as it gets closer to Christmas the cost of getting your order delivered tends to increase.  Free delivery options are usually via 2nd class or 72 hour services and these are always the first to be affected by any backlogs.  In previous years many consumers have opted to pay delivery upgrades to ensure next day delivery – something that can be avoided by ordering earlier and allowing more time for the free delivery.
In the US they also have Black Friday which is the Friday following Thanks Giving, the following Monday is then Cyber Monday.  This is when most American consumers have time off to spend with their families and time to spend money on Christmas presents.

What does Cyber Monday mean in retail?

In online retail and distribution Cyber Monday is a date which they plan for months in advance. In most major online businesses the planning starts in late December or the first week back after Christmas with a detailed review of what worked well and what could have been done better.  This feeds into a continual annual process of improving their online delivery services.  Over the coming months they will then forecast what sales they expect from the next Christmas period and start to plan the marketing, purchasing and logistics to ensure they deliver those sales.

At every point in their processes they are checking that they have the right online offer, the right marketing campaign, the right staffing levels in call centres, enough capacity on their websites, enough staff to pick and pack orders in their warehouses and enough lorries to transport the orders to the post office and other delivery firms.  It doesn’t stop there because each year delivery firms and the post office take on lots of temporary staff to make sure they can deliver all the parcels from orders placed online.  Years ago the post office used to take on temporary staff at Christmas to delivery Christmas cards but now while there are still lots of Christmas cards the bulk of their effort goes into parcel delivery.

For major retailers getting their stock levels right for Christmas is a difficult process.  For non-perishables (things like iPads, computers, makeup, toys etc) the stock is often imported from the other side of the world and orders have to be placed with the manufactures at least 6+ months ahead of delivery.  If the retailer doesn’t order enough stock they’ll run out with no way to restock in time.  If they buy too much stock they’ll be left with it after Christmas and will have to sell it off at break-even or even at a loss.  For fresh produce it’s a little simpler for the retailers as they tend to push the burden onto the farmers and producers in the UK and demand fast next day replenishment.

Finally it’s important to understand how important Christmas is for many retail businesses. For many it can be make or break with many making as much as 60 to 70% of their annual profit during this period.  If they get their Christmas planning wrong and fail to make their sales before Christmas it can have a serious impact on their business.

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