Published in the November 28, 2011 edition of the Hazleton, PA Standard Speaker newspaper.
Article written by Jim Dino
Cyber Monday is the Black Friday of e-commerce, and it is as successful as its older brother.
Several online firms that call Northeastern Pennsylvania home say Cyber Monday is one of their biggest, if not their biggest, business day of the year.
One is Solid Cactus, a firm that answers the phone for online retailers.
Scott Sanfilippo, co-founder of Solid Cactus, said most online retailers take advantage of the holiday.
“Cyber Monday is still regarded as the biggest day for e-commerce business,” Sanfilippo said. “It’s the one day a year when more online retailers save their best deals of the season.”
He said that while Cyber Monday is the busiest day, most of the merchants that deal with Solid Cactus continue to see above-average sales numbers through mid-December.
“But Cyber Monday is by far the holy grail that e-commerce store owners look forward to each year,” he said.
Sanfilippo said his business has increased each of the last two Cyber Mondays, and he expects a repeat 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.
“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. We are anticipating, and staffing, for a 50 percent increase in call volume this year.”
Sanfilippo said online retailers are also using social media to advertise their big Cyber Monday buys.
“You’ll find nearly all e-commerce businesses using Twitter and Facebook very heavily on Cyber Monday to promote exclusive coupon codes, special deals and other information to their loyal base,” he said.
“We are working with them to leverage the power of social media to get the word out about their deals as well.”
Solid Cactus also has been helping its clients take full advantage of Cyber Monday in other ways, he said.
“We’ve been working with several of our customers to create email marketing campaigns leading up to Cyber Monday and also emails to go out during the day promoting different deals and specials that the businesses will be offering,” he said.
Kristopher Jones, founder and CEO of ReferLocal.com, said Cyber Monday is more important than ever because traditional retailers are also taking advantage of it.
“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.”
The increased number of hand-held high-tech devices contributes to Cyber Monday’s success, too.
“Thousands of local consumers will use mobile devices and iPads to purchase products and compare prices online versus in-store,” 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.”‘
With all of that activity, Jones expects a higher percentage increase in business than Sanfilippo does.
“As more and more retail is being conducted online those local retailers that have an online strategy or an e-commerce presence will 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.”
Dan Moon, online marketing manager for VintageTub.com, a business that started in Hazleton and is now located in Mountain Top that sells a full line of bath fixtures and accessories, said Cyber Monday is big for that firm, too.
“Over the past few years, Cyber Monday has become an increasingly important day for us,” Moon said. “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 (it became the) number one day in 2010 of online sales.
“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,” Moon said. “Banners and email campaigns will inform our visitors of our special discounts that we will promote for (today) and throughout the week. After that, select products will stay discounted on our website until mid-December.”