Today is Summer Cyber Monday, according to marketing teams at Target (TGT) and Sears (SHLD), who have both launched multi-day sales, borrowing the Monday-after-Black-Friday label because... well, just because they can.
The sanctity of tradition in the U.S. retail industry was abandoned somewhere in the tsunami-sized wake of the Great Recession. So if a retail chain needs an excuse to boost sales in the middle of its three-month back-to-school promotion which began before the previous school year ended, then creating a Cyber Monday event to kickoff a cyber sales week on the fourth Monday in July makes as much sense as anything else.
Shoppers don't seem to care what sales events are called or when they're staged any more, as long as there's a really good deal in it for them. The really good deals at Target and Sears this cyber week are a combination of summer items that haven't been moving, back-to-school merchandise which could be moving in greater quantities, and other miscellaneous stuff that is begging for an excuse to be discounted.
At Target, each day this week will have different one-day-only deals in specific merchandise categories. The Target Cyber Week deals lineup includes:
Sunday, July 22nd - Summer Entertaining Deals
Monday, July 23rd - Baby Deals
Tuesday, July 24th - Website Sitewide Deals
Wednesday, July 25th - Buy One, Get One 50% off Deals
Thursday, July 26th - "Fun and Games" Deals
Friday, July 27th - Summer Essentials Deals
Saturday, July 28th - Home Deals
In addition to the themed Target Cyber Week daily deals, are separate back-to-school deals and back-to-college deals, which include discounted furniture, TVs, computers, and other things that are "essential" to students of all ages.
The Sears Cyber Monday promotion actually runs until 7am CT this cyber Wednesday, and offers shoppers an extra 5%, 10% or 15% off of some very specifically designated merchandise. While extra discounts are always welcome, the drastic discounts that shoppers associate with a Cyber Monday sale don't seem to be part of this Sears Cyber Monday "flash forward" sale.
There might be some crazy good deals on Sears.com today, but it's difficult to tell because when you click the link that says "shop hundreds of cyber deals," it leads you to a page with 89 items which are neither low-priced nor particularly desirable. The Cyber Monday-ness of the promotion isn't obvious, so it will take some work for a motivated shopper to figure out if there's any Sears super cyber specials available or not.
In a concurrent promotion, Sears shoppers can get additional discounts on designated back-to-school and back-to-college merchandise. The thing about these concurrent Sears.com promotions is that you're not exactly sure what the price of the merchandise is before you put it into your website shopping cart, and when you finally discover the discounted price, it's not clear if an additional "Cyber Monday" discount is included, or even what the discount percentage is.
While the end price should be the only thing that matters, the lack of clarity spoils the challenge of the game for the kind of die-hard discount shoppers who are attracted to a Cyber Monday type of promotion.
Perhaps the lack of clarity is intentional, but the strategy smacks of the Sears Hail Mary Marketing strategies of the past. And the question about this kind of multiple simultaneous promotion strategy is... how's that been working for you so far?
Although it's not being called a cyber sale, Kohl's (KSS) is also staging a 3-day promotion starting today which gives online shoppers an extra 15% off of "select back-to-school essentials" with the promo code BOOKWORM15. This is in addition to discounts already applied to children's clothes, school uniforms, backpacks, and lunchboxes designated as "essential" to a successful school return for young children.
There are no obvious Kohl's back-to-school specials on clothing for teens or college students going on right now, but a "dorm essentials" link connects website shoppers to a collection of merchandise relevant for the college bound, including "essential" iPads, jewelry boxes, and vacuum cleaners. "Essential" is a term that is being applied quite loosely in the 2012 back-to-school marketing season... Complete Back-To-School Sales Roundup for July, August & September >>