In a slowing economy, retail sales are an important indicator of the direction of the nation's economic trends. Consumer buying patterns at retail provide a glimpse into our confidence and the strength of the consumer economy. While retail sales have been sluggish overall in recent months, online retail sales have fared better. According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales rose 13% during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2007. Also, the share of all retail sales occurring online rose from 3.1% to 3.4%.
This trend is not suprising. The web has always offered the advantage of convenience, giving shoppers 24/7 access to the products they want. Now, the soaring cost of gas gives us another reason to shop from our computers. A limitation of e-commerce in its earlier days was consumers' lack of confidence shopping online. This limitation has waned as more people have made purchases over the Internet.
It is likely that the percentage of all retail sales will continue to rise. Now is the time for the late majority and laggards to swing into action and have a presence online. No, I'm not talking about shoppers. I'm talking about retailers! The role of a retailer's web site has moved beyond an information source that can drive store traffic. The web should be part of a multichannel effort that not only supports the in-store experience, but it must be a viable outlet for shoppers who increasingly wants to do business online. If you are a retailer that is not offering your customers the option of shopping online- why not?
Link: eMarketer "Retail E-Commerce and the Economy"