How did the solar eclipse impact eCommerce traffic? 

How did the solar eclipse impact eCommerce traffic? 

What were you doing during the Solar Eclipse of April 8th, 2024? 

Whether you “flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun” (shout out to Carly Simon), or experienced a “total eclipse of the heart,” (shout out to Bonnie Tyler), people in North America celebrated in all kinds of ways.   

There were viewing parties, travels to places in the eclipse’s path, and other revelry and celebrations. 

But here’s something that folks in North America were not doing during the eclipse – shopping online.  

Was it a total eclipse of eCommerce?  

Let’s see what the numbers suggest. 

Impact of the Solar Eclipse on Ecommerce Traffic 

Our team (a bunch of raging eclipse nerds) were curious to see how the eclipse impacted our Monetate client base. 

The first thing they looked at was the impact on North American traffic for our client base during the eclipse. We used Cleveland, Ohio as our test kitchen. 

As you can see from the chart below (marked by the suns to take you through the eclipse phases) there was a clear impact on the traffic during the two-hour eclipse window.  

As the chart reveals, as Cleveland shoppers woke up in the morning, traffic began to build throughout the morning and early afternoon. This is normal daily.  

But, when we reach that magic two-hour eclipse window, we see a dip in online traffic.  

This is when the eclipse magic is happening, pushing folks outdoors to check it out (hopefully through special eyewear!) 

As the eclipse ends, and life goes back to normal, traffic goes back up before dipping down again during the evening hours as Clevelanders head off to bed and end their day. 

But let’s add another layer here. Let’s look at the geo-specific impact of the eclipse and see what else we can learn about eCommerce traffic during the eclipse. 

Geo-specific Impact of the Eclipse 

When determining the geo-specific impact of the eclipse, we overlayed Nielsen DMAs (Designated Market Areas) and sessions in that DMA region (Cleveland), comparing the two hours after the eclipse to sessions in that DMA region two hours before the eclipse.   

We clearly can see a correlation between the eclipse path and areas experiencing lower traffic (in darker red.) 

But while it makes sense that traffic would dip during the two-hour eclipse window (due to outdoor viewing), what are the implications for retailers and merchandisers during special events like an eclipse? 

The Impact of Events (Like an Eclipse) on Personalization 

While eclipses don’t happen often, they shake things up when they enter our orbit. Besides boosting sales of protective eyewear, other industries also get a boost leading up to the event. 

Many folks travel to locations in the path of an eclipse, impacting airlines and lodging with eclipse watchers needing accommodation. So, for retailers and hospitality, it’s important to prepare. 

Here is where Personalization is important. Custom content and tailored experiences can help merchandisers and hospitality providers to better serve customers during these rare natural events. 

Consider the following impacts of Personalization: 

  • Personalized Product Recommendations: For retailers who sell special eyewear and other fun gear that eclipse-fans love (apparel, party supplies, decor), make sure shoppers are aware of these items when visiting your website. Dynamic Bundles can also be a fun way to suggest complementary items that go together for a viewing party to boost sales. 
  • Personalized Search: Often, shoppers will not know what they are looking for or need in the realm of gear to view an eclipse. Thanks to powerful personalized search, shoppers can easily receive results that will guide them to purchasing the gear they need. 
  • Easy Booking for Travel & Hotels: Whether an airline or a hotel, be prepared to showcase and offer accommodations easily for folks traveling to the best places to view an eclipse. 

 And while eCommerce traffic dropped during the eclipse, it’s important that personalized content and custom experiences are still in place to serve people that are still making purchases online during special events. Personalization is a 365/24/7 affair. 

And while the next solar eclipse that will be visible from the US isn’t until 2044, we can apply these findings and observations to any other special one-day event occurring in nature that captures the zeitgeist.