As I write this blog entry, we are still two weeks away from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. While I believe the first two will continue into the future, I think the term Cyber Monday has become irrelevant, largely due to technology changes, and will end this year. In this post I will lay out my reasoning for predicting its demise and invite you to give me feedback as to whether you believe Cyber Monday is doomed.
The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by Shop.org, the digital arm of the National Retail Federation. Shop.org also runs the website Cybermonday.com in which they invite participating retailers to share their Cyber Monday shopping deals. The term refers to the Monday after Black Friday when the most online Christmas shopping is done. It was not true in 2005 but was by 2010. Now it is only one of many large online shopping days reaching back into mid-October.
I believe that the biggest threat to Cyber Monday is technology. The theory was people would go to work on Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend and purchase all of their remaining Christmas items online using the faster company internet connection. That is now irrelevant for two reasons:
- Home internet connections are now fast enough to stream digital content such as movies so they are more than adequate for shopping.
- More people are shopping now from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet so they do not need to be tied to the home or office internet connection.
The term “showrooming” was coined to define the practice of visiting a store to view merchandise before ordering it online at a lower price. Best Buy has been referred to as the showroom for Amazon. In theory, you could even stand in a brick and mortar store and order the same product online through your smartphone. I think this practice will decline as we get closer to price parity between online and traditional retailers.
Web sites and apps such as Buyvia.com and Dealnews.com have taken the steam out of Cyber Monday by advertising a wide range of retail deals 365 days a year. I can define my product search and get alerts as to the best price and retailer, regardless of whether it is on Thanksgiving weekend.
Timing is everything
Retailers are creating shopping events earlier and earlier. I can already see “leaked” Black Friday ads from several retailers even though Thanksgiving is still several days away and Christmas is more than a month away. Soon we could have our Christmas shopping done in September, eliminating the whole holiday rush of late November and early December.
I realize that retailers will continue to roll out special deals on certain days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but I think that technology advances and the way that we choose to do business will make these exclusive days less of a bargain.
Am I just being a Scrooge or am I on to something? Is technology changing how and when we shop? Has Cyber Monday become irrelevant? Let me know your thoughts.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.