What does the growing market share for e-commerce mean for retailers? Learn more about the trends affecting Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday.
Growth of e-commerce sales outpaced total retail sales in the third quarter of 2012, according to Commerce Department data released today that reflects the growing influence of online shopping, social media and mobile technology.
E-commerce sales rose 3.7 percent to $57 billion in the third quarter of 2012, and accounted for 5.2 percent of retail activity, compred to 4.7 percent for the third quarter of 2011, according to the Commerce Department. Over the same period, total retail sales rose 1.4 percent to roughly $1.1 trillion, according to the Commerce Department. E-commerce is up 17.3 percent from the third quarter of 2011, while total retail sales grew 4.6 percent year-over-year.
What do these numbers portend for the holiday shopping season, which, according to the National Retail Federation, represents 20 percent to 40 percent of some retailers’ annual sales? Shop.org, the federation’s digital division, forecasts online sales will increase by 12 percent this year. In comparison, the federation expects total holiday sales to rise 4.1 percent compared to 2011.
Shop.org, which coined the term Cyber Monday in 2005, bases its prediction on Commerce Department data, and as well as information from the Federal Reserve, U.S. Census, The Conference Board and the federation’s own analysis. Though e-commerce is gaining market share, Black Friday is still expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year.
“Most retailers have no preference when it comes to whether customers shop in stores or online, or even on their smartphones – as long as they shop,” the federation said in a statement. “Retailers know their customers like to shop in a variety of ways and they have adapted to ensure customers can do their shopping anytime, anywhere.”
A new breed of “omnichannel” shoppers will use a blend of traditional and digital sources to complete their holiday shopping this year, according to the2012 Annual Holiday Survey from Deloitte, which forecasts a 15 percent to 17 percent increase in non-stores sales this year.
“This holiday season, retailers’ most lucrative customers may be the ones they engage across physical and virtual storefronts,” Allison Paul, retail and distribution section leader for Deloitte LLP, said in a statement. “Retailers that interpret and respond to real-time information about shoppers can hit the right notes on pricing and promotions that drive traffic without eroding margins.
Retailers can also use mobile platforms as a way to engage smartphone users, who are more likely to make a purchase in the store than non-smartphone users, Paul said. “Retailers that welcome the smartphone shopper in their stores with mobile applications and wi-fi access – rather than fear the show-rooming effect – can be better positioned to accelerate their in-store sales this holiday season.”
Other retail shopping trends tracked in the Deloitte Annual Holiday Survey 2012 include:
· Smartphones as shopping tool: More than two-thirds (68 percent) of smartphone owners plan to use the mobile device for holiday shopping. Shoppers will most likely use their smartphones to locate stores (62 percent), check and compare prices (58 percent) and research products (50 percent.) In-store sales influenced by smartphone use are expected to account for $36 billion, or 5.1 percent of total holiday retail store sales.
· Shopping with social media: Nearly half (48 percent) plan to incorporate social media into their shopping process. Of these, more than half will network to find discounts (54 percent), research gift ideas (53 percent) and read reviews (47 percent).
· Online shopping: Nearly half (45 percent) of consumers plan to shop online for holiday gifts. Consumers are most attracted to online retailers offering low prices, free shipping and free return policies.
· All I Want for Christmas is … Some Cash: Gift cards (47 percent) and cash (43 percent) top the wish lists of survey participants. What are shoppers most likely to buy? Just over half plans to buy clothing, while 47 percent intends to buy gift cards or certificates. Just over one-third plans to buy electronics (35 percent), and a roughly equal share, books (34 percent).