On Friday, comScore announced that U.S. retail e-commerce in Q1 2013 surpassed $50 billion in spending for just the second quarter on record. The figure represents a 13 percent increase from the same period last year.
The most popular U.S. categories during Q1 were:
1. Digital Content & Subscriptions
2. Apparel & Accessories
3. Sport & Fitness
4. Consumer Electronics
5. Consumer Packaged Goods
On May 6, PwC published a report stating that Chinese consumers shop online more than any other country. The consulting firm found that China has emerged as one of the world’s most wired retail markets with online sales amounting to $211 billion in 2012.
Internet merchants are taking advantage of the rapid growth. This past week, U.K.-based Marks and Spencer announced that it is hiring an additional 500 jobs for its e-commerce distribution center.
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Industry insiders are citing several factors for the increase in web-based transactions. First, more consumers are purchasing more lifestyle and retail products online. Social media sites such as Pinterest are enabling users to find popular items being offered by a variety of department stores.
Secondly, consumers are able to find niche products online, which have traditionally been more difficult to discover through traditional retail stores that offer commoditized items. Shoppers are able to get more value for their discretionary dollars by purchasing customized and/or tailored products.
“Over the past five years, e-commerce has grown at a pace at least twice as fast as total retail sales and that trend will continue over the next five years,” according to a recent post by Practical Ecommerce. “In 2012, e-commerce had a healthy 14.8 percent growth rate over 2011, easily eclipsing the total retail sales growth rate of 5.3 percent. By 2017, the Internet will account for ten percent of all U.S. retail sales when online sales will reach $370 billion, up from $231 billion this year.”
In the United States, online shopping now accounts for 8 percent of all retail sales, according to 3DCart. Additionally, Internet-based transactions are expected to outpace sales at brick-and-mortar stores over the next 5 years. Thus, more consumers are shifting their preferences towards efficiency (shopping from home) and taking advantage of competitively priced shipping.
Aside from the surge in online sales, purchases made through social media is also growing at a fast pace and is expected to reach $14 billion by 2015.