Online is a Retailing Bright Spot
It’s good to be in e-tail. While many brick
and mortar retailers were finding solace yesterday in posting less severe
losses than analysts expected, a report by Forrester Research and Shop.org
says online dollar sales were up an average of 11 percent for the first three
months of the year.
"It seems that consumer confidence
is getting better," Sucharita Mulpuru,
an analyst with Forrester, told Bloomberg News. "There is so
much price competition out there that you can find great deals. Hopefully
the worst is behind us."
Separately, new research from Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) concludes
that a growing number of consumers are going online to shop, although many
(45 percent) are spending less on shopping trips. Twenty-four percent of
respondents said they went online only to buy necessities, with the same
number of people saying they went online in search of the best deal.
our data indicates that people are spending less, it is equally clear that
shoppers are increasingly turning to the Internet as the channel of choice
when they do buy," said Linda
Shea, senior vice president and global managing director of ORC’S Customer
Strategies Practice, in a press release. "This underscores the need
for merchants to realize that even in a self-service environment, customers
need enough information to make a purchase decision and validate that they
are making the right decision."
to Ms. Shea, "The
most successful online merchants are investing in tools and technologies
that facilitate the shopper’s entire purchasing experience, from comparison
shopping and bargain hunting to effective use of coupons and credits to
easy return policies."
frustrations that consumers reported having with online shopping included
not being able to speak to someone to answer questions (25 percent), learning
items are back-ordered or out-of-stock after they are put in a shopping
cart (11 percent), receiving an item that doesn’t look like its depiction
online (11 percent), websites that malfunction during the payment phase
(9 percent), not being able to find an item (8 percent), unclear shipping
information (5 percent), uncertain return policies (5 percent) and
not receiving acknowledgement that an order has been placed (2 percent).
Discussion Questions: What are the biggest
factors you see behind the continuing growth of online sales, even as
physical store sales lag? Where do you see the greatest opportunities
and challenges for e-tailers as they look to
grow their businesses?
- U.S. Online Sales Grew 11% in First Quarter,
Survey Shows – Bloomberg
Shopping Increases as Consumers Hunt for Bargains – Opinion Research Corporation