November 26th, 2012 by Craig Labovitz

Welcome to Cyber Monday!

Today is expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever.

Once a minor side show to brick and mortar Black Friday shopping, Cyber Monday has grown into a multi-billion dollar cyber bonanza for retailers. Without question, Cyber Monday is the most important online shopping day of the year.

With billions of dollars at stake, companies have raced to build out and promote their online shopping presence.

This blog post explores the rapidly changing online shopping landscape. In particular, we look across millions of Internet users and end devices (e.g. phones, mobile apps, web sites, etc.) to analyze which Internet sites and behind the scenes infrastructure lure the most traffic and visitors.

Over the last several months, we conducted a large-scale study of online shopping infrastructure. As in other research reports, we use data from an ongoing large scale study of Internet backbone traffic across a large cross section of North America and multiple collaborating infrastructure and Internet providers (although based on a different dataset, more information about our basic methodology is available here). We believe this is the largest ongoing study of its kind.

The below chart shows the results of our study. The graphic lists some of the top Internet retailers and shopping sites along with the average percentage of Internet users that interact with each site either directly or through third-party sites or back-end infrastructure.

Amazon tops the list with an amazing 14% of all Internet users interacting with Amazon managed shopping sites every day. This includes www.amazon.com as well as a growing empire of Amazon owned branded sites such as www.myhabit.com. For the purposes of this report, we include all amazon owned retail sites under amazon.com with the exceptions of zappos.com and quidsi.com which are large enough to warrant their own entries. The Amazon entry does not include AWS or other Amazon advertising and cloud infrastructure.

What is truly impressive is how much larger Amazon shopping is compared to any other other online site. Amazon is almost double the next largest shopping competitor, Ebay, which enjoys 8.8% of daily Internet users.

While most of the Cyber Monday media attention (including this Wall Street Journal article) focuses on the big names in retail, Cyber Monday also represents a major portion of the yearly sales for tens of thousands of smaller web sites. To demonstrate the growing power this market segment, we we include e-commerce hosting sites like www.shopify.com in the above chart. With an impressive 5.4% market share of daily users, Shopify provides a complete web storefront platform for more than 30,000 sites. As in the brick and mortar world, online small businesses account for a major portion of the US e-retail economy.

While not a household name (or at least no one in my family recognized the name), sites like quidsi.com represent new players that have quickly amassed web conglomerates encompassing dozens or hundreds of smaller sites. The Quidsi empire (ranked #6 at 3.1% of daily Internet users) includes dozens of popular shopping sites such as soap.com (where you can literally buy soap as well as hundreds of other daily sundries), diapers.com (baby products), and yoyo.com (toys). Note that Quidsi was acquired by Amazon for a whopping $540 million in 2010.

Our list also includes web shopping comparison sites like shopzilla.com at nearly 3% of all Internet daily users. Originally a failed Wharton student business plan competition entry, Shopzilla (and similar sites like pricegrabber.com) have grown to direct millions of daily online shoppers to the best deals in other online shopping sites.

For larger retailers, Cyber Monday represents nothing short of an all out price war. Struggling electronics retailers like bestbuy.com have slashed prices and spent millions on promoting their holiday deals.

The below graphs shows some of the tangible results of this online war. In the days following Thanksgiving, BestBuy traffic grew from an average of 1.5% of Internet users to more than 5%.

With that, I’ll wrap up my brief tour of Cyber Monday shopping. I’m off to try and find deals on a Nintendo D3 for my son. Anyone have suggestions?