Overall, the retail industry posted solid growth last year and e-commerce really knocked it out of the park. Total retail sales reached approximately $4.12 trillion in 2014 and online retail made up about 7.9% of that ($326.6 billion). Compared to 2013, 2014 “nonstore retailers” sales, which includes e-commerce, grew by 7.7%.
The last quarter of 2014 was strong for e-commerce, as online sales increased by 2.3% between Q3 and Q4. After being adjusted for seasonal variance, the US Department of Commerce estimates that online retailers sold $79.6 billion worth of goods. This made up 6.7% of total retail sales, which reached $1.2 trillion.
The holidays always make up a large portion of sales as shoppers buy gifts for everyone on their list. In fact, there was a 15% online sales increase in November and December 2015 compared to the year before, according to Internet Retailer.
The National Retail Federation estimates that overall retail sales will increase by 4.1% in 2015. Many believe that this is an overly optimistic figure, but now that we’ve looked into how online retail did in 2014, let’s see what could happen this year.
How to Make 2015 Your Year
Statista predicts that the increase in online retail sales will be 14.2% in 2015, compared to a 15.5% growth rate between 2013 and 2014. But there are several things that retailers can do to surpass this projection and send their sales higher than ever.
- Increase Payment Options: Credit is a good option, but shoppers want more than that. About 54% of shoppers like having the option to use payment methods beyond credit and debit. This often boils down to security concerns, since 28% of internet users won’t shop online to avoid entering credit card information when checking out. Consider offering alternative payment options, such as PayPal, to give customers choices and make them feel safer.
- Put the Customer First: Online shopping limits the shopping process in a few ways and one of them is support. You can’t make suggestions based on the shoes a shopper is wearing like in brick and mortar, but you should still be there for your customers. Approximately 83% of consumers require some sort of customer support while making an online purchase and if you can deliver, you’ll reap the benefits. Roughly 86% of consumers said they’d pay more for a good customer experience, and that is possible through live chat. Be clear on what shoppers are looking for, provide helpful recommendations, and answer questions in real time.
- Use Data Effectively: There are different kinds of data, and even more ways to use them. Even though it can be overwhelming, it is crucial for e-commerce success. It can allow retailers to provide a more personalized experience and target shoppers better when they abandon their cart. Know what they’ve added to their carts and use those items to remind them to come back. Provide great recommendations based on what they’ve previously ordered to create loyal customers. Data can even give retailers a better idea of what price is best on products based on the competitive landscape, demand, and more.
What strategies do you think will make the most impact on retailers’ bottom line in 2015?
Blog post by Angelica Valentine, Content Marketing Manager, Wiser