Lessons Learned from Cyber Week 2021

The US holiday shopping season is looking different this year but still very much on track for record-breaking sales. As the e-commerce share continues to grow, we see how Amazon stays in the #1 spot and why Montaro partners outperform in the marketplace.

Shoppers move away from Cyber Week traditions, but eCommerce continues to set records

The e-commerce market was surprised last month when Cyber Week — traditionally the kickoff to the holiday shopping season that runs from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday — missed online sales expectations. Adobe’s Digital Economy Index reported the first-ever year-over-year decline (-1.4%) in aggregate U.S. online Cyber Week sales, with sales dropping from $34.4 billion in 2020 to $33.9 billion this year over the same 5-day period. The slight decline is the result of a confluence of factors — heightened consumer awareness of supply chain shortages prompted many shoppers to start shopping earlier than ever this year; retailers opted to kick off their holiday deals well in advance of Black Friday, with deals starting as early as October at many large online retailers like Amazon and Walmart; and perhaps even a broader pandemic-driven shift has changed consumer behavior with online shopping now so habitual that more consumers make holiday purchases alongside their usual shopping activity.

Although the spending patterns look slightly different and notably less concentrated this year, Adobe still expects the overall 2021 holiday season to set new sales records, and e-commerce spend continues to grow faster than the market. During the month of November (Nov. 1 to Nov. 29), consumers spent $109.8 billion online, a significant jump of 11.9% over last year, with 22 days of the month exceeding $3 billion in online spending, according to Adobe. This is a new record, as only 9 days in all of 2020 hit that same milestone. On Black Friday, online share grew again this year, accounting for 38.1% of overall sales, an increase of 11.5 points from last year.

Amazon also touted record-breaking sales during both Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021  — yet another indication that the e-commerce giant is showing no signs of slowing down and continues to dominate the market. While Amazon has yet to disclose exact Cyber Week sales numbers, data from Numerator indicates that Amazon captured 17.7% of Black Friday dollars, more than any other retailer for the 2nd year running. 

Montaro brand partners outperform on Amazon

Montaro brands also significantly outperformed, with Cyber Week sales on Amazon up 30% YoY on a revenue basis and setting multiple record-breaking sales days. Leading up to the holiday season, Montaro worked closely with brand partners to focus on optimizing channel and advertising strategies to ensure brands were well-positioned for the peak season.

Strategic Inventory Planning. In the months leading up to the holidays, Montaro prioritized advanced inventory planning and positioning as well as strategic assortment decisions to optimize product availability in the channel and successfully navigate supply chain disruptions as well as Amazon processing delays, warehouse limitations, and inventory restrictions. Despite tighter than ever Q4 inventory availability, Montaro brand partners saw a 24% year-over-year increase in units sold.

Brand Equity. Another focus area was content optimization and brand positioning on Amazon to boost shopper conversion and help brands benefit from increased traffic in the channel. Listing health, SEO, and enhanced brand content have become increasingly important to stay competitive in the channel. On average, Montaro brands achieved a 36% increase in conversion versus Cyber Week 2020

Advertising Strategy. Lastly, Montaro worked with brand partners on Q4 advertising strategy, campaign segmentation, and spend to drive product visibility and sales while maintaining average sale prices, profit margins, and ad performance. This is especially important for premium brands that traditionally don’t offer the deep discounts and promotional pricing that have become ubiquitous with peak shopping windows like Prime Day and Cyber Week.

Creativity: There is no one-size-fits-all on Amazon and Montaro worked hard to make sure that we found creative opportunities for our brands to stand out, meet the customer where they are, and deliver an optimized on-brand experience.

What does this mean for your brand?

Cyber Week 2021 results have shown us that the COVID-fueled growth of online shopping and new consumer shopping habits are very well likely here to stay. For premium brands, the continued dominance of Amazon across the ecommerce landscape is hard to ignore. To stay competitive and accelerate growth, brands need to think more deeply about how they operate on Amazon and be more intentional about their marketplace strategy and approach.

Montaro helps premium brands answer thorny questions: How can my Amazon business support, rather than disrupt or compete with, DTC and brick and mortar efforts? How should we assort into the channel to maximize inventory positioning amidst global supply chain disruptions? Or how do we meet shopper demand and expectations on Amazon without eroding brand equity or control? If you’re grappling with these or other questions around Amazon strategy, opportunity, growth, control, or optimization, we’d love to hear from you: https://montaro.co/get-in-touch/

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