Cyber Monday is fast approaching, and it is certain to be a bigger and more global deal than ever. Of course, if you are in e-commerce, you already knew that.

You may even be familiar with the statistics: in 2017, Cyber Monday saw record-breaking action, with $6.59 billion in U.S. transactions in one day – an increase of almost 17 percent over 2016. It was the biggest online shopping day in the country’s history, topping off a Thanksgiving weekend that reached just over $13 billion in total sales.

Critically, the online holiday frenzy is not just a U.S. phenomenon. Consider that shoppers in the United Kingdom spent more than £7 billion on Cyber Weekend in 2017. With these kinds of sales numbers and potential customers at stake, it is critical for your company to know how to prepare and benefit to the maximum degree. To help, DHL asked e-commerce businesses, including DHL customers, for insight and ideas on the best ways to succeed. The more than 14,000 responses offer a valuable guide to the holiday season ahead.

Here are the key findings:

Positive Outlook Is Everywhere: A majority (52 percent) of respondents expect an increase of more than 21 percent in e-commerce sales during Cyber Monday 2018 compared with 2017. Almost one-fourth expect an increase of more than 40 percent.

Planning Early Matters: 30 percent of respondents say they start planning for the busiest e-commerce holiday of the year a significant 7-13 months in advance, while a majority start about 3-6 months early. 28 percent do not start preparing until 1-2 months in advance.

Express Shipping Is Essential: When asked what changes e-commerce companies are making to their Cyber Monday strategy this year, more than one-third (34 percent) of respondents said they were offering additional express shipping options. Also, 26 percent of respondents believe that offering competitive shipping options is their biggest business challenge when preparing for Cyber Monday.

Technology Challenges Are Big: When asked what their biggest business challenge preparing for Cyber Monday is, the number one response, with 29 percent of the votes, was website malfunctions. To counter that, 27 percent of respondents plan to expand their IT teams to support increased website traffic around Cyber Monday this year.

Shipping Is the Dealmaker: All respondents placed a high priority on smooth shipping during Cyber Monday, and were willing to go to great lengths to ensure it happened:

  • 40 percent said they would rather have a TV malfunction during their favorite Thanksgiving Day football game than suffer shipping snafus on Cyber Monday
  • 35 percent would rather gain 10 pounds from overeating their Thanksgiving meal
  • 15 percent would rather overcook their much-anticipated Thanksgiving turkey
  • 10 percent would rather miss their flight for the Thanksgiving holiday

The profit potential and continued growth of Cyber Monday mean that it is the top sales priority for e-commerce companies. By planning early, and focusing on strong technology and robust shipping options that take into account international shipping, your company can deliver—for customers, the bottom line, and your business’s growth.

What is your company doing to prepare for holiday sales and shipping? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.