Holiday spending statistics show record-breaking success with IBM products and platforms

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Each November, the weekend from Black Friday to Cyber Monday is the single busiest, most critical time of the year for retailers. Holiday spending statistics serve as a key indicator of the overall health of the retail industry and reveal whether balance sheets will go from red to black. In 2018, IBM played an important role in this, with secure and reliable platforms that let our clients deal effectively with the unprecedented stresses placed on their systems by happy shoppers.


IBM clients experienced significant increases in activity and sales

This past year, Cyber Monday witnessed the highest number of orders on any given day, followed by Black Friday and Thanksgiving. Holiday spending statistics showed that more than 165 million Americans shopped on location or online, and a significant proportion did both. We saw multichannel shopping increase by 40%, and mobile traffic garner 62% of traffic share during Cyber Week. This is significant because it reinforces the fact that consumer shopping habits continuously change, and you need to prepare your team to serve them in new and better ways.

Additionally, the volume and nature of these retail sales were unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed before. All of our clients showed a significant increase in order volume – some gaining from 3 to 16 times more. One high-end retailer executed 235 million API calls alone. And another client’s order volume scaled 16 times larger than the average daily volume they typically process.

Our skilled IBM team monitored more than one thousand accounts as millions of transactions occurred and millions of dollars were exchanged. Using improved proactive monitoring and alerts, as well as new customer-specific dashboards, we were able to help the accounts achieve significant gains over previous years’ results:

  • 4.5X more orders were placed  (15 million total)
  • 25X more inventory inquiries were handled (94 million total)
  • 23X more API calls were conducted (568 million total)

To ensure our clients’ systems were prepared for the holiday onslaught, IBM experts provided technical advice, implementation assistance, best practices validation and recommendations for product configuration and operations. But it was IBM’s secure and reliable products and platforms that afforded clients the power to maintain peak performance while their systems were pushed to handle volumes never before experienced. And in the process, we added to the insights we have from all past years’ experience – a vast base of knowledge that only an experienced partner can amass, and one that will enable us to help our clients perform even better in every year to follow.


Begin planning next year’s holiday shopping now!

The shopping trends we witnessed this year are undoubtedly going to continue. As reliable, secure technology becomes critical to holiday sales, you need to be prepared for the pressure placed on your systems during any peak season.


So while you’re analyzing this year’s holiday spending statistics, start thinking about how the results will impact your actions next year. If you’re attending NRF, I strongly suggest you check out our event page. There are two specific events I recommend:

  • Forrester Briefing on fulfillment and the customer experience on Monday, January 14th. Register here.
  • WCE at the Top of the Rock (30 Rockefeller Center) on Monday evening, January 14th. IBM clients Nike, Carhartt and Tractor Supply will explain the results they have achieved using the IBM commerce products. Request an invite here and please note that space is extremely limited for this very popular session, so make your request very quickly.
  • If you are not attending NRF, schedule a consult. It’s less than 365 days to next year’s holiday shopping season so start setting yourself up now to win later!

Director of Marketing, Watson Commerce, IBM Marketing

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