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Welcome to Cyber Sunday: E-tail will never be the same again


Cyber Monday is now Cyber Sunday. That’s official. Well, at least as far as Walmart is concerned. The company is going to launch its Cyber Monday deals a day early this year.

Why? Is the retail giant-of-giants regretting pulling back from Black Friday now that the momentum is really building, or is this a logical move that simply reflects reality? Maybe a bit of both. CEO Fernando Madeira pointed out the logic of changing tack. “The customers have changed but Cyber Monday hasn’t changed with them,” he told Reuters. “Now everyone has [the] internet.”

The fact is that Cyber Monday is no longer the year’s biggest online shopping day. China’s Singles Day has taken that crown and in some markets like the UK, Black Friday beat it last year too. Even in the US, the gap is closing with Adobe predicting $3bn in online sales on Monday but as much as $2.7bn on Friday.

It used to be that Americans got back to their offices on the Monday after Thanksgiving and took advantage of all those new-fangled computers and the high speed wifi they found there to go shopping. Seems almost funny now.

What it means as far as Walmart is concerned is that instead of the smattering of teaser deals it offered on the same Sunday last year, there’ll be 2,000 online-only specials available from 8pm.

The power of online

The move to Cyber Sunday also reflects a wider online-driven trend that sees retailers deciding when is the best time to offer deals and knowing that their smartphone-toting customers will be ready.

Black Friday is still key, of course, as its timing is perfect for Christmas shopping. But the rise of online shopping has shifted the shopping event scenery to create alternative Black Fridays at other times. Amazon has proved that with its Amazon Prime Days earlier in the year. Alibaba has proved it with Singles Day on November 11.

The onward march of online has also changed Black Friday itself and we’re seeing proof of that this year with a whole load of tweaks to usual retailer behaviour over Black Friday/Cyber Monday, of which Walmart’s move is the highest-profile.

Why is the change happening so fast in a world where e-sales are still the smallest percentage of total sales? Currently, more than 92% of total US retail sales still happen in physical stores and in Britain, the figure is still around 90%. But for both countries, online is a disproportionately large force in special shopping events like Black Friday. In the UK, for instance, over a third of the near-£2bn likely to be spent on the day will be online.

And that gives retailers the chance to extend the event on their websites as they’re not bound by shoppers’ abilities to get to stores. In fact, a lot of retailers launched Black Friday early this year with plenty of deals available last week and this week even more.

In France, where physical retail is still reeling from the Paris attacks, online is also changing the landscape and Black Friday is morphing too. La Redoute, which said the Friday-through-Sunday period was its second biggest shopping weekend in 2014 (as pictured), has renamed it Le Grand Weekend. But despite the use of the word “weekend”, its deals start today and end next Monday.

So whatever happens on Black Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and Cyber Saturday, Sunday or Monday, one thing we know is that shopping will never be the same again.

This post first appeared on, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

digital snippets e-commerce Uncategorized

Digital snippets: Burberry, Nicola Formichetti, Ralph Lauren, StyleMint, H&M

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:


  • Burberry focuses on Facebook to push new fragrance, commits over 60% of annual marketing budget to digital media [FT]
  • Designers including Norma Kamali and Nicola Formichetti for Mugler turn to 3-D fashion shows [The New York Times]
  • Ralph Lauren solo sponsoring NY Times iPad app for September with ads to provide only live video of fashion week show [AdAge]
  • Olsen twins unveil debut StyleMint video with guest editor stylist Sara Moonves [The Cut]
  • H&M launches e-commerce in US via [WWD]
  • Ralph Lauren Kids rolls out third RL Gang digital shoppable storybook [Daily Candy]
  • Viral video: 100 years of East London fashion in 100 seconds for Westfield Stratford City mall opening (as above) [New Media Age]
e-commerce Uncategorized

Asos to host flash sale on designer sunglasses from 7pm tonight

Fashion e-tailer Asos is set to host its first ever global flash sale tonight from 7pm UK time.

Offering designer sunglasses at up to 60% off, the sale will be open for 13 hours only. Brands on offer include Missoni, Matthew Williamson and Moschino.

Facebook fans can also get advance access from 6.30pm, by liking the page, here.

Find out more at:


Groupon insights: what the surge in the group buying market really means for small businesses

I experienced my first Groupon earlier this week, a hair treatment in East London. It was good. Other than a slight hiccup with my original appointment, the hairdresser was lovely (entertainingly eccentric in fact), the setting was quality and the result absolutely perfect.

But it had to be really. At the end of the day, the only way this guy – an independent with his first salon I may add – is going to make any money from having gone into partnership with Groupon is to encourage repeat custom. Needless to say, I put my journo head on and started asking questions…

It turns out the salon sold nearly 1,000 deals. Each one cost £65 (instead of the usual £180) with about £20 of that, from what I can figure out, going to Groupon.

From the off therefore, there’s no way this endeavour would make money; rather it would be lucky to break even.

Then there’s the fact that’s a lot of customers to try and satisfy within a six month period for an appointment that lasts up to three hours. As a result, this salon has hired multiple extra staff to deal with the demand, plus opened its doors seven days a week (including on the recent bank holidays). So that’s more cost then.

Even more amazing, however, is the way in which the salon actually gets its money. For every person through the door, it has to send Groupon proof of the bought voucher. When each one is signed off, the money eventually comes its way.

In other words, the salon is laying out for the treatment far further in advance of the cash. That might not be a big deal for a large corporation, but for a tiny salon where cash flow is of paramount importance, you can well imagine it is.

To make matters worse, the salon had various experiences whereby the customer had in fact cancelled their purchase from Groupon and got their money back. Of course, they’d already been sent the voucher, so if they wanted to they were still able to have the treatment before the salon realised. It wasn’t until the salon contacted Groupon it was told this transaction was invalid. Inevitably the fault of a dishonest consumer, but still proof of a system that needs to perhaps be reconsidered.

Said hairdresser also told me of two other salons he knows of that have had to close down off the back of partnerships with this deals website giant. He wasn’t aware of them due to their boarded up windows, but rather because Groupon contacted him to ask if he could take on the additional customers who would no longer be able to get the original treatments they bought. He said no.

You might notice I’ve kept the name of the salon confidential; I didn’t think it fair to reveal who it was. But the point is, it doesn’t really matter; the one I went to was one of the luckier ones it seems.

It’s a tough one. The deal’s market is growing rapidly, and I don’t fundamentally disagree with it – it holds great marketing potential for many. But it’s not for everyone and it shouldn’t be taken as a quick fix to helping business as though it is.

In this case, the salon is coping. It will get through its 1,000 customers and it will do so to the best possible standard so as to encourage as many of them as possible to come back. It won’t, however, be using Groupon again.


The world of daily deals wrapped up

Online MBA has unveiled a “cheat sheet” surrounding the burgeoning daily deals phenomenon.

Featuring the four biggest sites, LivingSocial, Groupon, Facebook Deals and Google Offers, it summarises everything from when each was founded to how much they’re worth and what the retailer’s cut is.

Check it out, below:


mobile Uncategorized

Republic signs up to Facebook Deals

UK high street retailer Republic has partnered with Facebook Deals to offer shoppers 20% discount in-store when they check-in through the app, according to Brand Republic.

Natalie Primus, head of social media at Republic, said: “We wanted to drive increased and repeat footfall by rewarding and incentivising our customers and Facebook Deals allows us to do this quickly and efficiently.”

The discount can be redeemed in stores in Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham Leeds and London.

Other UK retailers signed up to the scheme include Debenhams and Benetton.


Facebook Deals to come with £50,000 media spend

Brands in the UK hoping to provide Facebook users with access to special offers through the site’s new deals service are going to have to spend £50,000 on banner advertising to do so, according to Brand Republic.

Facebook Deals, which launched in beta in the UK in January and was originally free, already has the likes of Debenhams and Mazda as partners.

It enables users to check in using the social networking site’s location feature, Facebook Places, and find nearby offers.

Facebook declined to comment.

With the surge in deal marketing at present (see my post from yesterday), it seems like quite an odd move to me – brands could easily turn to Foursquare or the forthcoming Groupon Now instead. Having said that, Facebook’s userbase is now over 600m, Foursquare’s is perhaps more like 6m; perhaps that’s worth £50k after all?

mobile Uncategorized

Deal or no deal? Tech companies dive deeper through location, brands approach direct

I spent a great deal of my weekend catching up on stories from SXSW. There were a lot.

Particularly fascinating was the read on “deals” as this year’s buzzword. Check out this article from Advertising Age about Groupon influencing a whole host of other services – new deal-orientated projects from Google, Loopt and SCVNGR are all mentioned as well as upgrades to those belonging to Facebook and Foursquare.

It’s fair to say the paths of location networking and deals have truly collided (though it’s arguable whether they were ever actually distinguishable in the first place). What’s perhaps more interesting, is the further news of Groupon’s real-time mobile service.

Groupon Now, which will launch in April, will help people find deals nearby to them based on two different options: “I’m Hungry” and “I’m Bored”.

Or in other words, where location was going into deals, now deals are going into location.

Adding to the mix no less, is the fact it’s not just tech companies working out how to benefit in this world. Brands are bypassing these third party apps and reaching out to consumers directly too.

Last week, Gap, which hit the headlines with its sellout Groupon offer last summer, launched its own deals initiative.

Through, consumers could name how much they wanted to pay for a pair of men’s khakis. By clicking on “let’s make a deal”, they made an offer for one of 18 styles retailing for between $49.50 and $59.50. Gap then presented its deal in return which shoppers could either accept or counter before receiving a final price.

According to the site’s winners tab, offers tended towards $35-$45 for a $49.50 pair. All rather along the lines of TV game show Deal or No Deal (as pictured), albeit without the £1m prize balancing the other end. Of course, gaming is another area so intrinsic to this world, as I wrote about here.

Chris Donnelly, an executive partner in Accenture’s retail practice, told AdAge: “You get to this space we’re in right now where, even though the economy is picking up, consumers still expect things to be on sale. That leaves the retailer to come up with ways to give discounts without completely eroding margins.”

“[Gap’s deals initiative] is a better way of price discrimination, because you’re trying to tailor the price to each individual. A coupon is a very blunt tool. If I give everyone a 30% off coupon, some would have bought full price and some still won’t buy,” he said.

Does it have staying power? Potentially. But if you ask me, it’s sites like Groupon (it’s also worth checking out this chart documenting its rise to potential $25bn IPO) and Foursquare that are the ones to watch most closely.