Mondays have always gotten a bad rap. ‘Monday Morning Quarterbacks’ are known as know-it-alls who complain without adding value -- and when you have a slow week, ‘every day feels like a Monday’. All of this could lead one to wonder why The Adams Family’s morose daughter wasn’t named Monday.

The Bangles so eloquently gave song to the feelings of worker bees across the country when they sang, “Just another manic Monday…wish it were Sunday,” but for online retailers this holiday season, Monday seems to be the best day of the week. According to Wikipedia “In some cultures, Monday is held to be the first day of the week… many languages refer to Monday as the ‘day of the beginning.’” In our 9-5, 24/7, "Mo Money Mo Problems" culture, Monday has morphed into the “day we spend shopping online for holiday gifts”. According to comScore Inc., in 2007, the Monday before the Christmas Shopping deadlines (12/10/07) was the biggest shopping day ever online. What will this year hold? The verdict is still out; it looks like consumers may just be waiting til the last possible minute to buy gifts, maybe even until December 22nd, the Monday before Christmas.

The National Retail Federation reports that by the second week in December, only 47% of consumers had completed their Holiday shopping, compared to 53% last year. By early December, a whopping 41 Million people had not started their Holiday Shopping and only 8% reported completely finishing their holiday gift buying, compared to 12% last year. Many of those feet draggers plan to avoid the holiday masses at the mall and surf the web instead, with 40% of consumers planning to shop online, up significantly from 35% in 2007. NRF's 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Study.

With shipping deadlines as late as December 23rd, there is still plenty of time to sway consumers to shop your site. According to Hitwise, Google search driven traffic is up across most retail categories year over year, with categories like Consumer Electronics (28%), Home improvement (27%) and Office Supplies (26%) all up significantly. Even Apparel (24%), Home Furnishings (16%), Toys (16%) and Sporting Goods/Fitness (11%) saw a jump over the same week in 2007. Hitwise weekly upstream traffic % increase/decrease for week ending 12/13/08 over week ending 12/15/07. This weekend's weather washout in parts of the country may keep shoppers inside cruising the keys instead of the mall. If last year is any indication then this coming Monday will be one to watch. Retailers be prepared, the shopping season is not close to done, keep your physical and virtual doors open, keep the emails coming and make sure your sites are prepared for the increased traffic (even on Christmas Day!). Here’s hoping your holiday sales do indeed have a case of “The Mondays”.

Who is doing it right?

In part III of our video interview series with Avinash we learned about the meaning and the importance of the "non-line world".

Today, we ask Avinash a very important question..."In the retail space, who is doing an excellent job of understanding and measuring the online impact on offline sales?"

Did Avinash name your company? Watch the video below to find out!

If you missed the earlier installments you can find them by searching the blog for "Avinash".


I sat down with Ken Cassar, VP of Industry Insights at Nielsen Online, to discuss the findings of his report called "Pinpointing the Value of Multi-Channel Behavior". In part I of the video interview series Ken shared his thoughts about why Nielsen had embarked on this piece of research. Today, we dive into the meat of the findings and speak specifically to the key questions on all of our minds:

  • What is the actual value of a multi-channel consumer (one who shops on your website and in your store) versus a single channel consumer (one who shops only in your store)?
  • Recommendations for retailers on how to measure multi-channel behavior?
  • and...what was surprising, even to Ken; a seasoned online consumer researcher, about the findings???

Please watch the following two videos to get the answers.


What to do to Boost Year End Sales Figures and Close Out 2008 with a Bang

From Cyber Monday to December 5th, online spend is up 9% over 2007, according to comScore. With 50% of shoppers planning to purchase gifts throughout December1 and more key shopping days just around the corner, it’s important to not lose momentum as the holidays approach. And even as we begin wrapping up the holiday season, many new opportunities will arise that will carry on into the new year. To help you prepare for the home stretch and beyond, we've compiled some recommendations:

1. Will Santa arrive on time? Online shoppers will be interested in knowing whether their gifts will arrive on time so set the correct expectations in your creatives.

  • Call out the last ship-in-time-for-Christmas date in your creatives. Have new promotional creatives ready to be switched on after this deadline.

  • Promote expedited shipping options that guarantee Christmas delivery and when this option ends (i.e. Order by 12/23 for guaranteed Christmas Delivery!)

  • If your business can automatically upgrade customers to expedited shipping for free, call this out; it is a great way to earn goodwill and leave a lasting memory of excellent customer service

  • If its not possible to upgrade everyone, be selective in how you offer this incentive: for example, do so for shoppers that use your private label credit card, for specific order sizes (i.e. Orders of $100 or more), for a very limited time (i.e. 3 days only), or for a discounted rate (i.e. 2-day shipping for only $5)

2. Promote in-store pick-up: If you offer buy online and pick-up in-store options, consider using geographic targeting to promote products and product categories in the regions where selection is ready.

3. Promote the multi-channel experience: If you are a multichannel merchant, consider using your online ads to invite shoppers to visit your physical store locations. After shipping deadlines have passed, last minute shoppers will be interested in store locator pages that feature your business address, extended store hours, and driving directions -- make sure these are easy to locate on your website.

4. Budget Within Your Means: If you’re going to be out of the office for a few days, make sure to set your Adwords spend at a comfortable level. Leave your daily budgets and bids at a level that will allow you to be competitive and allow for plenty of shoppers to see your ads.

5. Multiple Holidays, Multiple Opportunities: Santa isn’t the only gift giver this holiday season. Don’t forget to build campaigns around other key holidays, such as Hanukkah (Dec 22-29) and Kwanza (Dec 26 - Jan 1). Search interest in Hanukkah generally upticks 2 weeks prior to the start (Dec 5 in 2007) and search interest in Kwanza upticks a month before the holiday.

6. Post-Holiday Sales: Roughly 10% of sales during the November-December holiday season happen the week after Christmas.2 If you’re closing out inventory or having a year-end sale, ensure that your ad texts reflect this. You can also expand your advertising efforts by placement targeting ads on consumer-tips sites in the Google Content Network or by driving traffic to your brick-and-mortar store with Local Business Ads.

7. Gift Card Redemption: Last year 42% of consumers planned to redeem their holiday gift cards after January,3 and every year many of those gift cards simply go unused or unredeemed.4 Make sure every gift card dollar counts: Have a post-holiday campaign ready to target gift card receivers; and for those who don't sell gift cards, use your ad creatives to target the many consumers who get non-store-specific gift cards backed by major credit card companies (i.e. "We accept all major credit cards.").

8. Reach the Resolutionaries: Every year millions of Americans make New Year's resolutions. The most popular resolutions revolve around decreasing debt, losing weight, developing a healthy habit, spending time with family, and getting organized.5 If you have products that relate to these resolutions, you might consider building a campaign around these products.

9. Think Small, Think Big: Historically search interest for occasions like prom, wedding planning and the presidential inauguration increases significantly in late December and January. Even if your niche isn't prom, wedding, or politics, think of any complementary products that you do sell (i.e. flowers, jewelry, home furnishings, party favors or even gourmet food) that can benefit from this potential traffic and start getting creative with your ad texts.

1. Google Consumers Intentions Survey, November 2008.
2. National Retail Federation as cited on Reuters, Sorting Through Black Friday Data, December 2, 2008.
3. Jupiter Research, Gift Card Sales, May 31, 2008.
4. National Retail Federation, Top 10 Tips for Buying Gift Cards, November 12, 2007.
5. Franklin Covey, New Year's Resolutions Survey 2008.


Where is Dear Abby when you need her most? Dear Abby, the ubiquitous advice column launched in 1956 and now published in over 1,400 newspapers, always has the right answer to life's most perplexing situations. Not sure how to deal with pushy in-laws? Wondering how to write a condolence letter? Dear Abby always has a simple, uncomplicated answer.

As retailers deal with one of the most challenging quarters in recent times, what might Dear Abby advise? Is there some simple, straightforward advice that might help all retailers navigate today’s challenges?

Dear Abby,

I am so confused by the sales on my website (which sells a unique assortment of this and that.) This quarter, everything seems to have stopped! Earlier this quarter, lots of shoppers were coming to the site, looking around, spending more time than ever…but just not buying. I have to admit my traffic and sales increased between Black Friday and Cyber Monday….but now I’m seeing a slowdown again.

My products haven’t changed. My marketing is the same. It all used to work so well! Why aren’t people buying these days? What is this nonsense of “trading down and across?” I’m so confused - should I quit spending on search and banners? Can I just turn off the site, bunker down at home and flip the switch on again next spring?



We believe that Dear Abby would offer some basic, no-nonsense recommendations that any retailer could follow.

Dear Perplexed – This is certainly not the time to shy away from the challenge! You need to maintain your focus and work through the remainder of this quarter. Your efforts today will not only help you weather today’s troubling economy, but will help build a stronger foundation for the future.

Want to continue to drive sales? This is the time to continually test and optimize. One of the benefits of digital marketing is the ability to test different messages quickly and relatively inexpensively. Consider A/B testing to find those tactics that lead to an online sale. Try offering free or reduced shipping to a select group of consumers and watch the impact on sales. Continually refine your offers, landing pages and promotions. Pay attention to what your consumers are reacting to – and stop wasting time (and money) on those that aren’t.

Ted Vaughan, from the Retail and Consumer Product Practice at BDO Seidman, reminded us in a recent article "the Internet makes it so easy to browse; they (consumers) will be able to find other products they may not have had in mind”

Greg Thomas, the Director of research and programs at The Emory Marketing Institute agrees, recently advising retailers to “…shift assortments and promotions toward a value focus.” So listen to these experts - be creative, suggest cross sells, accessories and upsells to your site visitors – make it easier for your consumers to find new and unexpected items to add to their shopping cart.

While you’re testing offers, don’t lose site of the value of your brand. Ensure consistency across your channels so that every touchpoint with the consumer works to reinforce your brand. Don’t confuse them with different colors or offers on your site. Snowflakes in your store? Then make sure they’re on the site. Circuit City’s “One Price Promise” is the latest example of brand consistency across channels…can you say the same about yours?

This is not the time to lose market share to your competitors. Although it’s tempting to reduce spend, the competition is still spending. Maintain those marketing expenses that provide the strongest return. Make sure you continue being top of mind and part of the consideration set for your existing customers. Those same messages reinforcing your brand to existing customers will introduce your brand to new customers, giving you an opportunity to increase your customer base for future growth.

The Internet may be an accepted channel for those of us in the business, but many Americans have yet to discover the convenience and ease of online shopping. Use this time to learn more about your customers, test your marketing and reinforce your brand so that you’re even stronger for future opportunities.

- Abby


…Friday that is. Fashionistas and Frugal Freddies alike hit the keyboards in record numbers this Cyber Monday. According to comScore, the four days from Black Friday to Cyber Monday saw spending online up 13%. Black Friday, a day traditionally reserved for lamenting that extra helping of stuffing and hitting the mall saw a 1% increase in online sales year over year. The National Retail Federation reports that during this year’s Black Friday weekend 34% of consumers did their holiday shopping online.

This year’s Monday after Thanksgiving saw 2 million more consumers shopping online than Cyber Monday 2007, a 22% increase according to comScore. Consumers surfed, saw and shopped their way through the many discounts offered across the web representing a whopping 15% increase in spend over last year, the second heaviest online spending day ever! (comScore) In addition, we looked at a sample of advertisers in various retail verticals and compared the ad clicks they received during Thanksgiving week (Tuesday-Monday) for 2007 and 2008. We saw increases in several retail categories, such as Department Stores (39%), Books & Magazines (28%), Comparison shopping (25%) and Sports & Fitness (24%). Even categories like Apparel (9%) and Home Furnishings (14%) were up. (Note: this is a sample of retailers only and should not be viewed as indicative of our financial performance during this period.)

If the Retail Pundits are right, the online holiday shop-a-thon will continue well into the Holiday Season. According to Forrester, 27% of US online consumers expect to spend more online this holiday season, with 47% expecting to spend about the same. Those making over $100k plan to increase their online spending this year by 15% with those in the mid to low income brackets upping their online spend by about 3%. (Forrester, Outlook For US Online Holiday Sales, 10/22/08)

Consumers will likely continue to shift their holiday gift buying online this season. Gas prices, free shipping and discounts are all contributing to this migration. Nielsen reports that convenience tops the list of reasons people choose to shop online. Seventy-six percent of consumers cited ability to shop 24 hours a day and 74% cited time-savings as reasons to click their way through the holidays. Not surprising, 53% of shoppers this year (compared to 46% in 2007) cited price as a reason to buy online.

Post-Thanksgiving not only are consumer’s pants tighter, but so are their budgets. It seems like everyone is looking for a deal; this Thanksgiving searches for terms with Black Friday and Cyber Monday were up like the calorie count (Figure 1). Searches for keywords like ‘coupons’ jumped from 30% of the most popular search term in November to 60% in December (Figure 2). Retailers did not disappoint coming out strong with record discounts and sales online. Also increasing in these first couple of days of December were searches for keywords like ‘gift ideas’ and ‘christmas’.

With 5 fewer days between Turkey Day and Christmas, what can retailers do to keep the Thanksgiving Gravy Train chugging along? Like Aunt Petunia’s Pumpkin Pie, keep it coming. Don’t cap your search budgets; if consumers are looking for you, make sure you can be found. Green Monday (12/8) and the Christmas shipping deadlines are fast approaching so communicate these important dates to your customers in your advertisements. Those days will have heavy traffic, so be prepared. Use the Google content network to attract consumers when they are interested. If you have videos, put them up on YouTube (and don’t forget to promote them). Whether your consumers are channeling Carrie Bradshaw or George Costanza, make sure your messages are hitting them when and where they choose to shop.


Today is Cyber Monday which we all know is one of the top online shopping days of the year. Therefore, we felt it was the perfect time to share part III of our five part interview series with Avinash Kaushik, Analytics Evangelist.

In part III Avinash discusses the concept of the "non-line world", which is key for all multi-channel retailers to internalize and embrace. Avinash also shares recommendations around how retailers can leverage cookie data to best understand the online shopper as he/she moves across channels.

If you missed the earlier installments, please take a minute to view Part I and Part II at your leisure. And always feel free to post comments and send feedback.