A look behind the scenes as a bunch of stuff went on sale, leading to SparkFun's biggest week ever.
In 2005, Shop.org supposedly coined the term Cyber Monday for, in their view, the biggest online shopping day of the year. At present occurring mainly in the U.S. and Canada, this is a weird time of year where both stores and people binge on capitalism. Traditionally, big markdowns and stampeding are the scene at brick and mortar stores on Black Friday immediately following Thanksgiving. Big markdowns and increased mouseclickery now follow the next Monday.
Like all internet things, it’s quaint to see skeptics exhort us not to believe the myth of Cyber Monday through the sharp lens of hindsight. But in 2013 it’s become a given that online retailers do something for Cyber Monday. Or at least that’s how it feels now that we’ve done two, and everybody seems to win.
Last year we first attempted Free Shipping all day, and even that looks a bit outdated, now that we have Free Shipping all the time. At the time it was a new direction, though, and resulted in our biggest sales week of the year! We learned that Cyber Monday can be a big deal for the SparkFun community too, and we got to test-drive a free shipping program.
As an aside, because of all our awesome SparkFun customers, free shipping $60 and up has been working out swell. Many of you have told us how it has changed your shopping habits for the better and, so far, it’s been affordable on our end. It’ll eventually change (as all things do) but for now it’s here to stay.
We had just shy of 4,000 orders on December 2nd. This is akin to a week’s worth of orders on one day! A huge thank you goes out to all of you in the SparkFun community that showed up and made that happen. Also, hats off to our shipping crew that needed the rest of the week to get everything packed and shipped. Customer Service had over double the number of calls, emails, and chats for a typical Monday. Site traffic only saw about a 25% increase, which is rather paltry considering some past events that saw increases by an order of magnitude. Regardless, daily site traffic these days is just higher than it used to be, and altogether last week ended up as our biggest site traffic week ever, just edging out the week of Free Day 2012.
Looking at products, we saw some interesting stories play out. The Makey Makey Standard Kit, retailing for $49.95, spent the entire day at just over $30, even dipping just below from 10AM-11AM. A quarter of the 72 orders for it got two or more, many to hit that $60 free shipping mark. The biggest seller by volume was easily Arduino Pro Mini 328 - 5V/16MHz with 1008 sold (straight break away headers, likely for all those Pro Minis, came in second with 679 sold and they weren’t on sale).
Then there’s the Mr. Roboto Kit. Enjoying a 40% flash sale from 2PM - 3PM, and 20% all day sold 24 units of this little guy. Out of context, big whoop, but considering Mr. Roboto usually sells only 1.7 units a week, that’s over 14 weeks of sales in one day! It actually saved this little kit that could from early retirement.
No Cyber Monday retrospective would be complete without mentioning our Distributors. Before all the goodies were rolled out to customers on December 2nd, we ran a 72-hour sale on SparkFun Originals for all the distros. It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison with the Cyber Monday everyone saw, since distributors do business with SparkFun under a different set of rules, but it helped all of them stock up and run their own sales in concert with us on Cyber Monday. A big thank you goes to our distributors who got in on the action and stocked up! And for you international customers, please take a look at the Distributors Page sometime to see if any are in your area!
So what’s next? First there’s next week’s Christmas Candy Pro Mini Giveaway. Aside from that, there are many ideas floating about. To make Cyber Monday possible we built a new tool for dynamic scheduled pricing and it’s already getting version 2 built out before year’s end. It consolidates pricing logic across SparkFun.com (which, given years of organic growth, has led to a contained but messy ball of mud), allowing us to get creative and do more sales in the future.
As you all have graciously responded so well to events like this, we want to keep doing them, but we also want to keep them fresh and interesting. One hotly debated topic is whether you enjoyed the relative complexity of Cyber Monday or would prefer more simplicity. There was the ability, for those that did their homework, to stack discounts and free shipping together to get the feeling they were robbing SparkFun (we survived overall so I think this was a win-win situation). Which do you prefer?
Clearly we’ll doing another Cyber Monday something next year. It is still a culturally limited affair, however. Not everyone does the Thanksgiving+Christmas 1-2 punch. Are there big shopping days in your corner of the globe when you would like to see us running special events?
And, assuming we do more sales year-round, what would you like to see us do?