• Network data forecast shows Cyber Monday will outsell Black Friday in 2015

• Black Friday competition increases purchase consideration time

• Retailers will reap rewards of increased confidence in mobile shopping

• International sales set to grow in December 2015 as shoppers abroad look to British brands for gifts

With Black Friday sales expected to surpass £1bn this year, retailers are expecting festive success based around key sales events. Digital marketing expert Rakuten Marketing saw December sales across its affiliate network of over 350 brands rise by 37% in 2014 compared to 2013, and now reveals trends into online shopping habits and the journey to purchase at Christmas.

Cyber Monday could steal the shopping

show Rakuten Marketing’s affiliate network expects to see Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales grow a combined 62% YOY (from 2014 to 2015) – with Black Friday sales predicted to grow by 39% and Cyber Monday sales expected to surge by a huge 90%. Although there is industry buzz around Black Friday at the moment, Rakuten Marketing’s network forecasts predict that Cyber Monday is likely to be the biggest sales day in 2015.

Mark Haviland, Managing Director at Rakuten Marketing Europe comments: “Cyber Monday lands on pay day this year, and is expected to take some of Black Friday’s market share as a result. National trends also show that retailers are likely to have sustained sale periods over the festive season so that they are not caught out by the huge spike that exceeded their logistics capabilities and toppled customer service in 2014.”

Black Friday competition increases purchase consideration

Rakuten Marketing display data shows that in 2013 the average consumer engaged with an ad 5 times before converting. However during Black Friday weekend, this drops to just 3 engagements, showing that offer-led creative quickly converted customers. During Black Friday weekend 2014 though, consumers begin to spend longer considering their purchases, engaging 4 times before buying, likely due to the increased competition amongst retailers.

Haviland comments: “Consumers are increasingly shopping around to compare Black Friday deals, and this year we can expect a repeat of the 2014 result, characterised by the ‘considered purchaser’. Brands must develop more engaging creative, with an emphasis on relevant audience targeting, to cut through the competition. is the majority of retailers are offering deals this year so it’s how you tell customers about the offers that will make your brand stand out.”

A very merry mobile Christmas

Mobile takes a larger share of browsing time each year, with a quarter of clicks coming from mobile in December 2014 compared to 16% in December 2013. Across Rakuten Marketing’s affiliate network, browsing on smartphones rose by 40% in December 2014 when compared to the other eleven months of the year. Orders on these devices also rose by 27% in December, suggesting that this year even more shoppers will be searching and comparing gifts on mobile devices.

Haviland adds: “Retailers must ensure that their sites are mobile optimised which is now fundamental in the path to purchase. Mobile is popular for browsing, so brands must put seamless omnichannel strategies in place in order to supercharge sales on other channels. As the consumer moves from screen to screen, having sight of campaign engagement across the complete consumer journey is key to understanding where customers should be retargeted to drive them down the sales funnel.”

British brands make top global gifts

Rakuten Marketing’s affiliate network saw sales from outside of the UK rise last December to 13%, with shoppers in the US, Ireland, Hong Kong and South Korea spending more on British brands for Christmas than at any other time of the year. In the US the percentage of orders in December alone compared with the January to November period grew by 30%, suggesting that Americans are looking to purchase the best of British retail for gifts.

Haviland states: “British brands are hot property and can gain from the globalisation of Christmas by utilising online channels. The internet is borderless, so it’s possible to reach new audiences with engaging local marketing, as well as through partnerships with trusted home-grown publishers in that market.”

Commenting on Christmas online purchase trends overall Haviland concludes: “In the UK this year the majority of people will shop both online and offline, so in order to see Christmas success, marketers must seamlessly serve engaging experiences across devices and use attribution data to bridge the gaps between online and offline. Targeting based on context will sort the winners from the losers at this competitive time of year; adapt your campaigns based on the combination of channels that are driving sales and ensure that you use customer insights to personalise marketing.”

About Rakuten Marketing:

Rakuten Marketing is the global leader in omnichannel marketing and driving the omni experience. Offering an integrated strategy that combines consumer centric insights with e-commerce expertise, Rakuten Marketing aims to inspire better marketing. Rakuten Marketing’s omni channel services include, Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly Rakuten LinkShare), the number one ranked affiliate marketing service, creating profitable and innovative partnerships; Rakuten Display (formerly MediaForge), enables one-to-one marketing across devices through precise targeting, custom dynamic creative, and engagement measurement; Rakuten Attribution (formerly DC Storm), measurement and attribution solutions that allow marketers to uncover the true performance of their campaigns with an unbiased, transparent view into each media channel.

Operating as a division of Rakuten, Inc. (4755: TOKYO), one of the world’s leading Internet service companies, Rakuten Marketing is headquartered in New York City, with additional offices in Australia, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, and throughout the United States. Follow us on Twitter (@RakutenMKTG_UK) or learn more at rakutenmarketing.co.uk.