Black Friday Cyber Monday 2018 Results: Breaking Records and Redefining Holiday Shopping

2018 was a record-breaking year for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the entire holiday weekend, both across the industry and here at Klaviyo.

Think about the sales spike an average ecommerce merchant experiences on BFCM. Okay, now multiply that by 10,000+ paying customers…and then adjust that total even higher to account for the fact that the fastest growing, most innovative brands in ecommerce use Klaviyo.

Finally, go one step further: consider the fact that Klaviyo doesn’t just pull in more information on what people look at, engage with, and buy than your typical marketing platform. We pull that data in real-time so it’s available immediately to use in your marketing.

So on the busiest online shopping days of the year, what does that add up to?

2.2 billion.

That’s the number of customer activities, or events, Klaviyo processed: more than 90,000 events per second at the peak. To put this in some context, consider that it takes about 100 milliseconds to blink. That means Klaviyo literally processed events faster than the blink of an eye.

Those events logged everything businesses need to know to engage prospective customers with personalized and relevant messages. From email opens to browsing activity to purchases, we made sure the right information was at their fingertips.

We also computed more than 27,000 customer lifetime values per second at our peak on Black Friday, helping businesses built on Klaviyo optimize how they engaged with their customers using real-time models to predict future buying behavior.

The data passed to Klaviyo triggered more than 100 million automated actions and messages for consumers, meaning that businesses built on Klaviyo could be off carving the turkey and celebrating with family while these revenue-driving messages were delivered to their customers.

All told, businesses built on Klaviyo sent out more than 1.2 billion emails and delivered more than nearly 50 million personalized web experiences.

All of those numbers are incredibly fun to nerd out on, but at the end of the day we’re here to help our businesses grow. That’s why we’re most proud to share that of the $6.2B in Black Friday sales, email and experiences built on Klaviyo were responsible for nearly 1% of those sales — with similar results for the weekend and Cyber Monday.

Ecommerce and BFCM ‘18

This holiday season marked a turning point for shopping behavior. We’re going to look back at BFCM ’18 as the point in time where ecommerce dominated — the point in time where we knew it would be inevitable that one day, online sales would surpass spending at brick-and-mortar stores.

Consider this: Black Friday, the traditional brick-and-mortar heyday, grew 9% year over year to $23 billion. But in-store traffic was actually down by as much as 9% — declining for the second year in a row.

Meanwhile, online sales came in at $6.2B. That means that one out of every four dollars spent by consumers at the pinnacle of the in-store shopping season was spent online. Black Friday online sales alone grew an astounding 24%. Businesses running on Shopify recorded an impressive 66% of orders during BFCM coming through on mobile.

Ecommerce retail is growing by 11% per year, while retail overall is growing by 3%. We’re heading full speed ahead to an age where online sales will overtake purchases made at physical stores. The future is coming faster than you might think. And we’re making sure that all of the businesses built on Klaviyo are ready for it.

The future is in relationship-driven ecommerce

Over BFCM, businesses built on Klaviyo drove more than $100M in sales through email and experiences powered by Klaviyo. But better yet, the industry average for percentage of sales through email was 24%; businesses built on Klaviyo generated nearly 30%.

Some businesses were laying a foundation for future success long after Black Friday had passed. For instance, one Klaviyo forms user pulled in 40,000+ (compliant!) opt-in subscribers — without needing an additional incentive beyond offering subscribers a first look at special offers.

It was a banner holiday season all around. But the most interesting part of BFCM’18 has yet to be reported on very widely or publicly, though I do think it’s something we’ll see more and more of over time. It’s the success seen by direct to consumer brands — specifically, brands that own production and direct distribution of their products.

In an interview on Squawk Box over Cyber Weekend, Shopify’s COO Harley Finkelstein put this stake in the ground:

“Consumers want to buy products from the people who make the products. This idea that direct to consumer is just a fad is ridiculous. The future of ecommerce and retail will be consumers wanting to buy products from the people who make the products.”

That’s a powerful statement. Ecommerce has long been dominated by a 800-pound gorilla: there’s no escaping the impact Amazon has had in transforming consumers’ expectations around shopping online. The marketplace giant had a pretty good BFCM ’18 by all accounts.

But they’re not making much noise publicly about year over year growth, other than claiming “millions” more products sold over Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in 2018 vs 2017.
Except “millions” more sold on Amazon likely means they didn’t come close to matching the overall online industry growth rate of 23% this BFCM.

Why is that significant? Because it’s yet another signal that the ecommerce landscape is changing. And it will continue to shift as Amazon looks for new ways to protect its market dominance.

Case in point: their aggressive stance toward Marketplace sellers, where they’re requiring some businesses to shift to a wholesale relationship with Amazon Retail — and taking things even one step further by preventing distributors with whom those businesses partner with directly from selling on Amazon Marketplace, while allowing other distributors who partner with Amazon to sell the same products.

There’s no doubt about it: Amazon is determined to own the relationship with the consumer. And historically, they’ve been pretty successful. Think back to the last time you bought something on Amazon from a brand you’d never purchase from before. Do you remember their name? My money’s on no.

Given the stranglehold Amazon has on the industry, merchants have traditionally operated on the assumption that they have no choice but to adhere to whatever policies the company sets. But things are starting to change.

As one founder put it in reacting to Amazon’s policies, “There’s a lot of great brands out there who can make that choice to leave.

Edgewater Research senior research analyst Eamon Kelly took it one step further: “I don’t think Amazon understands how close they are to blowing themselves up.”

Wow. Not too long ago, it would have been unimaginable to utter that statement. So what’s changed?

The fact is, the best brands today are competing on the holistic value they offer: the story behind their products, their purpose, their quality, and above all, the end-to-end experience they create. And that includes the experience they’re delivering with their marketing.

The brands that are beating Amazon at their own game are doing it because they’re building quality relationships directly with their consumers, and they’re doing it at scale. Because as the CEO and founder of Skubana puts it, “I think the power dynamic has been flipped…If you have eyeballs, you have the power.

Here at Klaviyo, we’re convinced that strong-arming by the biggest and baddest distributor out there won’t be enough to hold great ecommerce brands back from getting those eyeballs.

Because as our CEO Andrew Bialecki put it at our annual user conference recently, the future is inevitable: our technology will enable truly beneficial relationships between brands and individuals at unprecedented scale — and that technology will be accessible to anyone selling online.

To borrow the words of Shopify’s COO Harley Finkelstein again, in that world, “Creativity is trumping capital for the main ingredient for success.

There’s no doubt: Cyber Weekend 2018 will go down in the books for more reasons than one. There’s a revolution going on in ecommerce right now, and we couldn’t be more excited.

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