Looking Beyond Cyber Monday

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Emerging Cyber Threats for 2012

While Cyber Monday always brings a lot of online activity thanks to all the deals being offered by retailers, it turns out that, as a general rule, Cyber Monday is not the biggest online shopping day of the year.

According to statistics compiled by Akamai, a provider of a content delivery network that is used widely by online retailers to boost Web site performance and security, the days between Dec. 13 and Dec. 17 still generally generate more online traffic volume. More importantly, those days actually generate more transactions that create real revenue, says Lelah Manz, chief strategist for commerce at Akamai.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the days after Christmas are just as important because that's when many people redeem gift cards that they received as a gift. That activity, coupled with sales to clear inventory, make January a critical month for online retailers as well.

None of this data suggests that Cyber Monday isn't important. But the reality is that spikes in traffic generally start on the Sunday before Cyber Monday as people start to check out deals. And now many retailers are trying to extend Cyber Monday deals through the entire week as part of an effort to drive more business as early in the season as possible.

Early results would seem to indicate that cash-strapped consumers are responding to all the special offers being made. The question is whether that momentum will continue or taper off because many of them will simply be making their purchases earlier in the season.

Manz in daily blog postings will be tracking those and other online issues through the entire holiday season. In fact, one trend that has significant implications for IT organizations charged with running these sites is that a lot more of these purchases are being made using mobile computing devices. Another trend that has significant IT implications, says Manz, is that customers are checking out video content online a lot more than they have in years past. More dangerously, with the coming of Cyber Monday, we're also going to see a marked increased in the number of security attacks being made against online sites.

It's pretty clear that the online shopping experience is evolving pretty rapidly, which has significant implications for the IT organizations charged with keeping these sites running at peak performance not only through Christmas Day, but also well into a holiday shopping season that now extends well into 2012.