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'Cyber Monday' Big for E-tail

22 Nov, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

For shoppers who may not have the stomach for hitting stores the day after Thanksgiving, there's always Cyber Monday.

Retail trade group Shop.org coined the term last year as a moniker for the Monday after Thanksgiving, which is increasingly becoming a big-ticket Internet shopping day.

“For some merchants, it absolutely is the biggest shopping day for them, for others it is part of a period of which there is going to be big traffic on the Internet,” said Marwan Forzley, president and CEO of MODA Management, a company that came up with Secure E-Bill, a transaction that allows shoppers to purchase items at participating sites, but manage the payment personally from their online checking accounts.

“It's one of those days where the Internet will be buzzing with millions of transactions,” he said.

A recent Mastercard survey of consumers found that three out of four holiday shoppers plan to buy on the Internet this year, spending about $300 of a total $700 in holiday shopping, with 10% saying they planned to shop on Cyber Monday.

The biggest Internet shopping day of the year last year was actually Dec. 12, according to CyberMonday.com, an arm of Shop.org.

Web retailers discovered last year that Internet shoppers are doing their online shopping earlier every year, according to the trade group. The Monday after Thanksgiving literally kicks off the Web shopping season as retailers launch cyber incentives such as free shipping, according to Shop.org.

Last year, online merchants used conditional free shipping promotions more than twice as often as they used free gift-with-purchase incentives, which was the second-most used Internet promo.

As people have grown more confident about Internet seller's reputations, security and shipping policies, they are also looking to the Web for big electronics purchases, Marwan said.

Circuit City is offering a Web only exclusive of 15% off a wide selection of home theater systems to go with the HDTVs that are on so many shoppers' wish lists this year.

SonyConnect.com is offering Internet shoppers at the Web site for its high-end electronics chain a chance to go big on electronics purchases. Available only for purchases at SonyConnect.com is a special financing deal: no interest charges or payments until 2008 on any item more than $299. The site has a large selection of HDTV sets and other high-end home theater equipment.

Amazon.com is kicking off its Cyber Season early, even beating out Black Friday, using the Xbox 360 as a key driver.

Last week, Amazon launched the “Customer's Vote” special-pricing promotion that will go into effect Thursday, Nov. 23 at 11 a.m. Leading up to that date, and every week during the holidays after it, Amazon will list a selection of four products at ridiculously low prices and ask visitors to vote for which deal the site should offer — such as an Xbox 360 core system for $100 versus a Mongoose mountain bike for $30.

Other offerings on the “Customer Vote” program over the holidays will include a portable DVD player and a 26” LCD HDTV set, according to Amazon, available in similarly limited quantities.

“Customers love great deals during the holiday season,” said Craig Berman, Amazon.com spokesman. “Amazon Customers Vote is a fun way to offer four great products at four ridiculous prices and empower our customers to determine which one wins.”

BestBuy.com is luring Cyber Monday shoppers with exclusive sales on a selection of consumer electronics, which will pop up on the site Nov. 26 and 27. The retailer also has created special “In Store Pickup” reserved parking spots at the front of stores for Web shoppers who opt for store pickup of their purchases.

“Online shopping has grown and become an important part of the holiday gift buying experience,” said Rose Hamilton, director of online marketing for Best Buy. “Customers will find some great online only deals for Cyber Monday and the entire week after Thanksgiving as we keep the momentum from Black Friday going through the holidays.”

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