Americans lag behind Asians and Europeans when it comes to online shopping.
According to a recent Nielsen study, 63 percent of U.S. shoppers tend to research their purchases online, as well as use online reviews to inform their spending decisions. In addition, 78 percent reported finding online shopping convenient. However, many U.S. consumers are still hesitant to pull the trigger and make their purchases online.
A recent BI Intelligence study reported that e-commerce accounts for 5.9 percent of all U.S. retail sales, and e-commerce is still on the rise. In the second fiscal quarter, e-commerce sales were up 15.3 percent from the same quarter one year prior.
Worldwide e-commerce rates are expected to reach $1.5 trillion this year, increasing 20 percent from last year. The most popular items purchased online are non-consumables, most being in the entertainment category—hotels, airlines, event tickets, sporting goods and toys.
Shoppers in the Asia-Pacific region have the highest online buying rates—so much so that online buying exceeds browsing rates in more than half of all product categories.
Western Europe leads the way on CPG e-commerce. Online spending rates in Britain went from $70 million in the first quarter of 2013 to $91 million in the same quarter this year. Similarly, France's online spending on consumables has increased from $32 million to $42 million year over year.
There have been some significant jumps in American online shopping. The biggest jump was seen in airline reservations, up from 19 percent in 2013 to 43 percent in 2014. Hotels/tours accounted for 43 percent of online spending, up from 16 percent. Online purchases of electronic equipment also increased in prevalence, jumping from 15 percent of all online spending to 31 percent year over year. E-books, music and clothing/shoes also saw an increase.
"While online transactions make it easy to download a book, buy a ticket to a sporting event or book a hotel room, building a consumer base for consumable categories requires more marketing muscle," said John Burbank, president of strategic initiatives, Nielsen. "Finding the right balance between meeting shopper needs for assortment and value, while also building trust and overcoming negative perceptions, such as high costs and shipment fees, is vital for continued and sustainable growth."
What is stopping U.S. shoppers from online purchases? Well, 46 percent said it was shipping costs and 37 percent said they don't feel safe disclosing credit card information online.
Even if U.S. shoppers prefer to buy in brick-and-mortars, retailers can't ignore the mounting evidence supporting online's growing significance. Of those surveyed in the Nielsen study, 54 percent subscribe to retailers' email lists, and the same percentage spend considerable time browsing online prior to buying.
-See this Nielsen press release
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