What is Cyber Monday and what does it mean for fashion?

Cyber Monday, the largest online shopping day of the year, goes global and no longer has much to do with Thanksgiving, as I discovered for Financial Times last year

This week the US experienced the single largest online shopping day of the year. Cyber Monday is the virtual cousin of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally the US’s biggest shopping day of the year. It will see more than $1bn spent in less than 24 hours – that’s almost $695,000 a minute, according to digital research company comScore.

It is, however, no longer a US-only event, and it no longer has much to do with Thanksgiving. According to Andrea Panconesi, owner and chief executive of the Florence-based luxury retail website LuisaViaRoma.com, the international market for Cyber Monday will soon begin to overtake American demand. “Cyber Monday will become the first true online ‘transnational’ phenomenon,” he says. Sarah Curran, founder and chief executive of my-wardrobe.com, the UK-based luxury e-tailer which last year experienced a 184 per cent increase in sales on Cyber Monday, agrees. “For us, it’s not just a US phenomenon; we see it in the UK and even in Portugal,” she says. “It’s becoming a global phenomenon that starts on Monday and grows in momentum all the way up to mid-December.”

Matthew Cheng is founder of eCoupons.com, a global marketing website that carried out a survey of Cyber Monday intentions earlier this year in conjunction with Ipsos, a market research company. Cheung says that Cyber Monday is set to become even more global this year, as China is expected to overtake every other nation with almost 65 per cent of the population planning to go online and buy during the Cyber Monday period. This compares to 45 per cent of the US.

The globalisation of Cyber Monday is largely due to international marketing by Shop.org, part of the US trading association National Retail Federation, and the unofficial organisers and founders of the event, as well as widespread special promotions and discounts. Cyber Monday is, confusingly, growing from a day-long phenomenon that started in the early 2000s into a whole week, usually spanning seven days beginning the Monday after Thanksgiving. Christoph Botschen, chief executive of the Munich-based luxury online boutique mytheresa.com, points out that different countries hold Cyber Monday on different dates because of a variation in national paydays.

Some online retailers are also beginning to capitalise on the more traditional bricks-and-mortar consumer-fest known as Black Friday. Gilt Groupe, popular with luxury-obsessed bargain hunters, began its Cyber Monday promotions early this year following a global expansion to more than 90 countries, including the UK.

Boticca.com, a London-based online accessories marketplace founded in 2010 for independent designers, will also be doing everything possible to maximise sales during Cyber Monday week by using social media. “We will be using a Facebook application that will enable designers, who each sell directly to customers, to easily set up a store on their fan page,” says co-founder Avid Larizadeh. “Given that most of our designers do not have transactional websites, this will allow them to make the most out of Cyber Monday, and cut through the noise of traditional online retail.”

Another person looking forward to Cyber Monday is Alison Loehnis, vice-president of sales and marketing at London-based luxury fashion website Net-a-Porter. “Cyber Monday often falls into our sale period, which is a great transaction driver,” she says. “Last year it was our biggest day in terms of sales, and we see it increase every year. While the majority of sales on the day come from the US, we have started to see an increase in the international market. Cyber Monday has become the kick-off to the Christmas season for the entire online world.”

On your iPads, get set ... shop.

This article was originally commissioned and published by FT Weekend.