It is hard to believe that it is already October. With halloween just around the corner, there is no doubt that the holidays are fast approaching. Turkey dinners, picking out a christmas tree, watching the ball go down for new years eve, there are numerous reasons why this time of the year is loved by many. It is also savored by businesses because of the revenue that flows in during these joyous months.
2014, a year for the history books the 2014 holidays was one of the most profitable sales period recorded. For the first time ever, web sales went over $300 billion at approximately $304.91 billion. It was a 15% increase from 2013, which recorded about $264.28 billion in sales. The increase marks the fifth year in a row that that web sales growth has equated to or gone over 15%.
It was particularly the fourth quarter (q4) where e-retailers thrived, for it generated 31.4% of full year sales. 2014 q4 also recorded $95.98 billion in sales, which was 14.7% more than 2013’s q4. Furthermore, q4 web sales in 2014 increased 14.6% to $79.57 billion.
2015 will be bigger and better 2014 was a monumental year in e-commerce history. But as astonishing as it was, the national retail foundation (NRF) predicts that there will be even more growth in 2015.
According to the NRF, November and December sales (excluding auto, gas and restaurant) are predicted to increase by 3.7% to $630.5 billion, higher than the 10-year average of 2.5%. Furthermore, holiday sales are expected to represent approximately 19% of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion. The NRF is also forecasting online sales to increase between 6 and 8 percent to as much as $105 billion. Even though consumers are predicted to spend more prudently and deliberately, they will still be less constrained compared to two years ago.
Consumer needs and wants as enthralling as the numbers may be, an increase in revenue depends entirely on the consumer. If they are unhappy with their experience with a certain retailer, then that could serve them negatively. Fortunately, a study made by the CFI group and ebay enterprise reveals what matters most to consumers.
According to the study, product availability is essential in attracting and retaining customers. 79% of the 500 surveyed claimed that they were most likely to switch to another brand if items were out of stock.
In addition to product availability, the study also revealed consumer preferences for shipping. When asked what options they usually chose, 89% of those surveyed usually opted to ship their order directly to their address, 19% often opted for store pickup, and only 8% often chose ship-to-store if it was offered. Furthermore, of those who preferred the ship-to-store option, 62% did so in order to save money, with another 17% choosing to do so in order to get their item quicker. The combined 79% of shoppers who chose to ship-to-store highlights how valuable it is to have items both in-store and online.
A close look at the omni-channel approach even though e-commerce has become an integral part of a retailer’s business plan, the traditional brick and mortar has not lost its value. As the study by CFI showed, there are still customers who saw value in visiting the physical store. Whether it was to look for a different item in another location or to place a different order through a sales clerk, they still wound up in the physical store. Their experience began online and continued on in the brick and mortar store. Customers, now more than ever, expect that their online accounts align with stores.