Online sales during the holiday season are expected to surpass last year's levels by 9 percent. These predictions are based on data compiled by Volusions, an e-commerce platform for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). The data was sourced from 40,000 online storeowners who processed more than $1.75 billion during the first six months of 2014.
"As consumers continue to flock online for their holiday shopping needs, we predict another year of record-breaking sales for SMB retailers," said Clay Olivier, CEO, Volusion. "Although we've seen double-digit gains in previous years, growth of 9 percent in the 2014 holiday season demonstrates continued, healthy growth for smaller merchants."
The data shows that the key driver for the 2014 holiday season will be mobile commerce. Already in the second quarter, merchants have experienced a 23 percent gain in mobile sales, indicating that brands should be utilizing the platform to enhance the shopping experience for consumers. According to a recent study of the home furnishings industry, mobile was being used for very little other than for replicating the online desktop experience on a phone.
"The rapid growth of mobile sales for our SMB clients is telling of a larger industry trend around the importance of mobile for online retail," said Jason Woosley, VP of product at Volusion. "One thing to keep in mind, however, is that mobile accounts for less than 15 percent of SMB e-commerce sales, with the overwhelming majority of purchases still coming from desktop devices, so retailers should focus on their overall brand and user experience to make the most of the 2014 season."
The arts and crafts industry saw 23 percent growth earlier in the year and is positioned to do well in the holiday season. Furthermore, home and garden saw 21 percent growth and is expected to continue into the double digits in the second half.
"With more dollars moving online for the holidays, smaller retailers will need to find new and innovative ways to keep up with the largest names in the market," Olivier said. "By planning out their major sales and promotions now, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, SMBs can work to take a bite out of Amazon's market share during these critical selling months."
Looking at retail as a whole, sales only increased 2.9 percent in the first half of the year, and the National Retail Federation predicts growth of approximately 3.9 percent in the second half.
-See this Volusion press release
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