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Jennifer Marks

Clicks, Bricks & the Sales Mix

October 7, 2013

ShopperTrak put out an interesting statistic recently. Despite the explosive year-over-year growth of e-commerce, more than 90% of holiday sales still take place in brick-and-mortar stores.
I would have expected that number to be the neighborhood of 75%, or maybe even 80%. Even so, what happens online and in-store are vitally linked, regardless of which format scores the final purchase.

Here's another eye-popping number: Some 55% of retail-oriented Internet time starts on smartphones or tablets, outpacing the 45% that originates from desktop computers, according to a report released last week at Shop.org's Annual Summit.

The report, produced in partnership with comScore and The Partnering Group, covers June 2013. It found smartphone Internet usage that month accounted for 44% of retail Internet minutes, up sharply for 17% two years earlier. Tablet retail Internet minutes made up 11%.

As we all know, smart phone usage by consumers roaming inside stores is the cause of much agita, but the study suggests consumers are more likely to "showroom" the store they're already in with 57% visiting a retailer's site or app while in the store. Fewer than half (43%) check out a rival store's website on location.

In either case, they're looking for better pricing online. The irony, as NPD Group executive director and home industry analyst Debra Mednick noted during HTT's Context session during market week, is that average price points are higher for online transactions than in-store sales.

There's no denying the growing impact of mobile shopping, or m-commerce. Dollars generated by m-commerce totaled $4.7 billion during the second quarter of 2013, or 8.6% of e-commerce sales during the period, according to the comScore/The Partnering Group report. Between the second and third quarters of 2013, m-commerce grew 24% while e-commerce as a whole increased 16%.

Suppliers at the recent New York Home Fashions Market confirm online is still expanding healthily as a channel of distribution, most often with the big bricks that operate robust clicks sites. At the same time, several major retailers are currently investing in creating a seamless experience between the way consumers interact with them in stores, online and via mobile.

At the end of the day, more virtual outlets create more opportunities for selling product. And that's a good thing.