Published in the November 28, 2011 edition of the Scranton, PA Times-Tribune newspaper.
Article written by Jim Dino
Cyber Monday is the Black Friday of online commerce, and retailers say it’s as successful as its older cousin.
Several online firms that call Northeast Pennsylvania home say Cyber Monday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
“Cyber Monday is still regarded as the biggest day for e-commerce business,” said Scott Sanfilippo, co-founder of Shavertown-based Solid Cactus, a firm that answers phone calls for online retailers. “It’s the one day a year when more online retailers save their best deals of the season.”
Kris Jones, founder and CEO of Wilkes-Barre-based ReferLocal.com, said Cyber Monday is more important than ever because traditional retailers are also taking advantage of it. ReferLocal.com advertises a Deal of the Day from local businesses through its website in partnership with Times-Shamrock Communications, which owns The Times-Tribune.
“Local retailers that have a Web presence will benefit from Cyber Monday sales,” he said. “For instance, more and more local brick-and-mortar retailers are launching e-commerce websites to capture the incredible growth in online shopping, while other local retailers are simply listing products on eBay and Amazon to benefit from Cyber Monday.”
And the increased number of hand-held high-tech devices helps.
“Thousands of local consumers will use mobile devices and iPads to purchase products and compare prices online versus in-store,” Mr. Jones said. “The more sophisticated local retailers will benefit significantly from Cyber Monday and the trend to shop online or via your mobile device and avoid packed shopping malls, traffic jams and anxious last-minute shoppers.”
Cyber Monday has become an increasingly important day for VintageTub.com, a business that sells a full line of bath fixtures and accessories, said Dan Moon, its online marketing manager. The company started in Hazleton and is now located in Mountaintop.
“In 2008, Cyber Monday was just another day of the year, In 2009 and 2010, we saw that day break into the Top 10 in 2009 and Number 1 Day in 2010 of online sales,” Mr. Moon said. “We plan for that trend to continue for 2011 as our number one day of online sales and expect over 10,000 unique visitors to our website. Banners and email campaigns will inform our visitors of our special discounts that we will promote for Monday and throughout the week. And contrary to the popular notion, there are services that make religious display banners, so we don’t have to worry about banners related to business in the area.” Mr. Sanfilippo said his business has increased each of the last two Cyber Mondays, and he expects a repeat this year. In 2009, Cyber Monday call volume was up 30 percent, compared to a normal Monday, and in 2010 call volume was up 40 percent, compared to a normal Monday. The company is anticipating, and staffing, for a 50 percent increase in call volume this year.
“All our customers see an increase in sales on Cyber Monday,” he said. “Our call center, which handles incoming customer service calls for several hundred online merchants, also experiences major increases in call volume on Cyber Monday.
“While Cyber Monday is the busiest day, most of our merchants continue to see above average sales numbers through the middle of December,” Mr. Sanfilippo said. “But Cyber Monday is by far, the holy grail that eCommerce store owners look forward to each year.”
Mr. Sanfilippo said online retailers are also using social media to advertise their big Cyber Monday buys. Nearly all online businesses are using Twitter and Facebook heavily on Cyber Monday to promote exclusive coupon codes and special deals, he said.
Mr. Jones is also expecting a large increase in business.
“As more and more retail is being conducted online those local retailers that have an online strategy or an eCommerce presence with benefit from Cyber Monday and the growth in online sales,” he said.
“At ReferLocal we expect sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to be 200 percent greater than a normal day, with many people leveraging our website to buy holiday gifts.”