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For October, November and December of 2012, comScore is reporting that online sales increased 14 percent to $56.8 billion from the same period the previous year, marking the ninth consecutive quarterly posting of double-digit growth in ecommercesales.
U.S. retail ecommerce sales grew to186 billion for the full year, a 15% increase over the previous year and the strongest annual growth rate since before the recession. The comscore report also states that the number of buyers rose 6 percent and spending per buyer increased 8 percent for the fourth quarter.
Bottom Line: For all of you retailers out there-how can you get involved in the growth of online sales? Even if you simply establish channels that will help you to resell to existing clients, ecommerce is no longer a platform to think about or explore, it has become a marketing necessity.
Comscore has released its annual analysis of domestic online sales of the holidays and as predicted, it was a record Holiday Shoppers for ecommerce sellers.
Online sales reached $42.3 billion in November and December – up 14 percent from what the 2011 online sales figures for the same period.
Comscore outlined several significant shopping days in the table below that were significant. Thanksgiving Day was 32% higher than in 2011, Free Shipping Day on December 17th was up 76 percent over 2011 to over $1 billion and Black Friday was up 28% year over year and also over $1 billion.
Bottom Line: Ecommerce is becoming the way that consumers want to shop. According to the National Retail Federation, the estimate for 2012 retail sales at brick and mortar stores was an increase of 4.1%. The volume of retail sales is over 10x more for brick and mortar stores, but it is clear what the trend is. The question each business owner must ask is how this trend will affect their business in the future and what can be done to gain a share of the gains that are being realized on ecommerce platforms.
2012 was a record year for ecommerce sales, and 2013 promises to tell the same story. Ecommerce website developers continue to follow the current website trends of focusing on user experience and making the process “intuitive”. As with many website trends, these features are cutting edge and out of the price range of most ecommerce sites, but what is cutting edge today will be commonplace and affordable tomorrow, so being familiar with the cutting edge ecommerce website trends is valuable for large and small players in the online sales arena.
Loyalty programs are prevalent in virtually every retail sales environment. Ecommerce is no exception, and even non-traditional service industries are planning to launch loyalty programs—and collect data into customer profiles—to offer customized service.
Personalization is the process of customizing content display to cater to the preferences of the viewer. The concept is nothing new, but its use is becoming widespread popularity due to readily available technology. Whether personalization is simple (limited to a couple of collected insights) or complex (multiple factors processed by detailed algorithms), consumers are beginning to expect sites that cater to their preferences.
Data Sharing Will Pay Off for Consumers
Consumers will begin to see the data they share online—age, geography, marital status, etc. put to use in offering them a more relevant shopping experiences. No more wading through endless offers to find deals that are relevant. For many retailers, these features will be offered in real time in the form of instant discounts or limited time specials.
Responsive design will be a must have for ecommerce sites, ensuring your site is designed for optimal viewing no matter what mobile or tablet device, operating system, or browser is being used. In addition, geo-specific offers and content for different mobile shoppers will be at a premium.
Technologies that enable the analysis of huge databases for trends relevant to consumer behavior in general towards a brand or product type is known, in the context of marketing, as “Big Data”. The ability to analyze and directly translate this knowledge into improved online shopper experiences will improve the performance of ecommerce sites. This technology will not only benefit product sellers in 2013, but will also be a platform to aid in a more efficient and successful online purchase experience for consumers.
2013 will see more sellers using social data to personalize consumer shopping experiences on the website, as well as applying testing and personalization to social media vehicles like Facebook, Google + and others. Facebook has been especially efficient with improvements to the Nearby search function and allowing customization of pages to be displayed to consumers in different countries. Many predict that the customized display of Facebook pages may actually be expanded to the state, county and even neighborhood levels over time. The ability to segment offers to different customer profiles will be key to Facebook maintaining its position as the dominant social media player.
Bottom Line:Every business that has a product that can be sold online, or have funds collected online for sales or donations, should consider their best options for making at least a basic service available for their customers. The biggest mistake is investing in extremely inexpensive solutions that do not offer the ability to grow. If handled correctly, online sales can grow quickly and having an inadequate ecommerce platform can seriously damage the growth of online sales.
Here are comScore’s final Cyber-Weekend e-commerce sales projections. Cyber Monday online sales were at $1.46 billion. The projected total over the 4 day Thanksgiving weekend was $2.86 Billion. Cyber Monday qualified as the largest single e-commerce shopping day in history in terms of total dollars spent.
Cyber Monday, first named in 2005, is the Monday after Thanksgiving when internet shoppers supposedly have faster internet connections in the workplace to make Holiday purchases. According to comScore’s projections, half of the sales on Cyber Monday came from shoppers making purchases from home. While comScore did not project any numbers for sales made from mobile devices on Cyber Monday, other estimates range from 13% from IBM to 22% by Adobe.
Bottom Line: Online sales are up year over year about 10% for the Thanksgiving weekend. Online sales resulting from mobile devices was over $650 Million, using the most conservative estimates. More data will come for the overall Holiday shopping period, but clearly, ecommerce, and the use of mobile devices to access ecommerce, are on the rise.
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