They say Cyber Monday is the first business day following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but it's also fair to assume that today will be the bigger Monday for online shopping.
The original Cyber Monday made sense when Ellen Davis coined the term a decade ago in a Shop.org press release. Folks would be returning back to work following Black Friday, and online merchants were there trying to woo them into snapping up the desired gift items they weren't able to secure over the weekend. We weren't all blessed with high-speed connectivity at home, making Monday at work an ideal time to see what cyberspace had to offer.
Drawing attention to the rite made it a self-fulfilling prophecy. E-tailers big and small hopped on the phrase, promoting even bigger deals on Cyber Monday. It was a win-win scenario where shoppers got good deals early in the shopping season, and Internet-connected merchants scored some significant sales.
In 2005, however, we didn't trust cyberspace. There were too many horror stories of packages taking weeks to arrive, and in some cases missing the critical Christmas Eve delivery deadline.
That's not the case anymore. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) has changed the way we view things, making two-day delivery the standard that any heavy hitter needs to follow. Folks pay as much as $99 a year for Amazon Prime, a platform that offers two-day delivery of all Amazon-warehoused goods at no additional cost.
There are a lot of Amazon Prime members. Amazon has only revealed that there are "tens of millions" of folks paying for speedy subsidized fulfillment and digital goodies. Industry watchers have a wide range of forecasts, but they are all perched north of 40 million.
That's huge. We're talking about the Internet's most active shoppers, and as Amazon goes, so does the Internet. Trend tracker Slice Intelligence pegs Amazon as commanding 39.3% of all e-commerce spending from Nov. 1 through Dec. 6, essentially as much as the next 21 Web-savvy retailers combined.
Amazon has raised expectations, and that has forced other retailers or similar programs such as ShopRunner to keep pace. Consumers won't be flinching as they place orders online today, with Christmas Eve just three days away. They know their stuff will arrive in time. Amazon has made it possible to procrastinate in cyberspace, and it's why Cyber Monday in its traditional placement is a joke.
Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.