Social Commerce: The Secret Backseat Driver Of The Pre-Black Friday Cyber Monday Boom


Brandon Rowe

According to Adobe’s latest report about Black Friday, online shoppers made their purchases earlier than ever this year. From November 1st to Cyber Monday, consumers throughout the United States spent $109.8 billion online, exceeding last year’s number by 11.9%. With ecommerce stores offering deals as early as October, many consumers opted to purchase outside of the dedicated Cyber Week timeline. While it’s evident Cyber Week has lost the ability to corral consumer spending, what actually caused shoppers to shift focus and spread their dollars over more days?

Refersion’s findings suggest affiliate marketing was a key driver of this shift. Merchants who use Refersion’s software to manage and track their affiliate and influencer marketing programs drove nearly $150M in revenue from September 1 to November 29, 2021, resulting in a 39% increase compared to $108M in 2020.

With such notable rises in the holiday season’s performance marketing revenue, let’s unpack our Black Friday Cyber Monday results for further insight.

Merchants with affiliate marketing programs reach higher AOV than those without

Average order values increased across the board, and affiliate marketers ultimately won the day. Shopify saw average cart prices reach $101.20, which is up from last year’s Black Friday average of $90.70. However, Refersion’s merchants seemed to fare better, with average order values climbing from $107.7 in 2020 to $138.8 in 2021.

Continued disruption of consumer behaviors and merchant brand strategies

Data from Shopify also showed an increase in mobile usage for shopping. This year’s consumers made 72% of sales on mobile devices versus 28% on desktop, an increase from 67% of sales made on mobile and 33% on desktop in 2020. This upward trend in mobile sales points to the subtle influence of social commerce. As more affiliates and influencers contribute to mobile platforms like Instagram and YouTube, more consumers turn to their phones to make influenced purchases.

Consumers aren’t the only disrupting factor in today’s ecommerce environment. Online merchants are seeking advertising alternatives as purchasing holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday lose their consumer chokehold. A study from Tomoson found influencer marketing to be the fastest growing online customer-acquisition channel as consumers become fatigued by traditional paid advertising. According to Tomoson, businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Comparatively, the average return on paid ads is 2:1 — $2 in revenue to $1 in ad costs.

Holiday shopping expected to continue post-Cyber Monday

With merchants reaping the benefits of influencer marketing returns, we can anticipate more affiliate advertising dollars to spread throughout the holiday season. Early consumer buying behavior pre-Black Friday has experts convinced there will be more spending post-Cyber Monday. Adobe predicts spending over the course of the entire season, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, to hit a record $207 billion in online spending, which is a 10% growth compared to a year ago.

For retailers who haven’t seen the desired holiday shopping results yet, here’s a last minute opportunity to cash in on consumer purchasing through the end of December. To kickstart your affiliate or influencer marketing program now, reach out to a Refersion expert to schedule a free demo.

Special thanks to our friends at Refersion for their insights on this topic.
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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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