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Cyber Monday smashes UK online retail records with shoppers 32% more active

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Cyber Monday set a new online retail record as shoppers made 112m visits to retail websites – 32% up on 2011, according to figures from Experian.

Three websites alone, eBay , Amazon and Argos , accounted for 30% of all visits to UK sites on Monday December 3, Experian’s Hitwise data showed. More than six in 10 visits (62%) went to the top 100 websites in the industry, while and together saw 12.18% of all retail visits. That’s up from 10.85% last year. And two mobile websites, eBay UK Mobile and Argos Mobile, were among the top 40 fastest moving websites in Experian’s Hitwise index.

Other winners included which doubled its market share of visits from last year.

Consumers also set new records for the amount of time spent shopping online in a day, with 15 hours spent on retail sites. Each visit came to 8m 12s.

James Murray, digital insight manager for Experian Marketing Services, said Cyber Monday had been “the biggest single day of online shopping we’ve ever witnessed”.

He added: “There is still plenty of shopping time between now and Christmas however, and in particular we are expecting a lot of last-minute panic buying online on Christmas Eve as consumers take advantage of click-and-collect services. Marketers need to be aware of these trends so they can engage with their customers at the right time to maximise sales in what could be a bumper Christmas year for online retail.”

Max Childs, marketing director at Amplience , said Cyber Monday had lived up to retailers’ expectations as being one of the busiest online shopping days of the year. “However for our retail clients,” he said, “it was actually Sunday that was the busiest day of the year so far, with website views for some retailers peaking at 85 per cent over run rate.

“Large retailers witnessed an increase in website traffic of up to 71 per cent above normal levels over the weekend. Retailers also saw up to a 69 per cent lift in click-through rates on our rich-media modules. Retailers with a US presence benefitted from a Black Friday boost in website traffic the weekend before last. As consumers got into the shopping spirit post pay-day, retailers offering rich-media content on their website saw a spike in engagement.

“Interestingly, the small retailers had consistently higher engagement results, with nearly four times more interaction with rich-media content on their websites than the larger brands.”

Elsewhere, MetaPack‘s eTracker saw deliveries climb by 51% on Cyber Monday. The largest category boost came in sports and leisure, up by 81%. MetaPack now predicts that Monday December 10 will be 10% up on December 3, rising to a peak that will be sustained until December 18 or 19. “Some of our retailers have reported as much as a 300% increase in sales during this period,” said MetaPack chief executive Patrick Wall.

CollectPlus , however, warned of a 15% predicted increase in returns peaking yesterday, Boomerang Thursday, as consumers change their minds on their orders and send back Christmas gifts. Its research found that 24% of online shoppers are confident about receiving replacement items in time for Christmas. And with this confidence comes a rise in the number of people planning to do their present buying over the internet this year. Some 87% said they would shop online while 27% plan to buy more than in 2011.

But multichannel customer interaction management company Eptica has warned that UK retailers are frustrating shoppers with “distinctly average customer service.” Its 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study found that only 48% of retailers successfully answered basic questions sent by email, while websites answered only 53% of questions asked online.

“A good Christmas can make the difference between survival or failure for hard-pressed retailers,” said Dee Roche, VP, global marketing at Eptica. “Delivering a first class customer experience is central to winning and retaining sales, but our research found that while some retailers are excelling at service, many seem to be unable to provide answers to even the most basic of questions.

“It is particularly worrying to see that a rising number of retailers are making it more difficult for customers to contact them via email – not only does this potentially break the law, but it forces consumers to change channels and risks them going elsewhere.”

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