In the last quarter Americans spent $43 billion online and that figure is expected to grow exponentially in the upcoming years. By year’s end, online sales are projected to be in the vicinity of $226 billion, increasing to $327 billion by 2016. Online shopping with its 24/7 availability and free to cheap shipping deals trumps brick and mortar, say the experts. By now people are comfortable with the idea of picking up their merchandise at their doorsteps instead of the delivery dock. Add that to the growth of digital products from music to movies and media in general, and online is where the growth is expected.
A look at the details shows that the most popular product categories were digital content and subscriptions, consumer electronics, flowers, greetings cards and gifts, computer hardware, apparel and accessories. Of these categories, apparel, computers and consumer electronics account for 40 percent of online annual sales. This trend is expected to continue. At the same time, the list seems to indicate that food, furniture and fixtures aren’t high on the online shopper’s list. In general, the high ticket items lag behind in online sales, though retailers who have both online and brick and mortar outlets have seen a 23 percent sales growth.
In an interesting twist, top speakers at this year’s Internet Retailer Conference were William Lynch, Jr. CEO of Barnes and Noble and Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com – the behemoth of brick and mortar if ever there was one. All of which goes to show that the retail landscape continues to evolve to the point where businesses need to carefully position themselves to match consumer preferences across the broad spectrum of devices and delivery channels. Then they need to re-evaluate strategies about every five minutes. Stay tuned.