Online sales in the US are increasing, boosted by mobile commerce. Everything points to this being a channel for growth as consumers report positive customer experiences when purchasing online.

Online Sales in the US Boosted by Mobile Shopping Trend


While Xerfi is reporting slower growth rates in e-commerce in France, on the other side of
the Atlantic IBM is more optimistic about trends in the United States. IBM’s retail economic
online indicator shows total online sales figures for the first quarter of 2012 increasing by
6.3%, compared with a fall of 1.9% for the same period last year. And the most significant
trend is with mobile shopping, which in Q1 accounted for 13.3% of online retail sales, double
the proportion posted for the same time-frame a year ago. In fact 17.1% of all traffic on e-
commerce sites over the 3-month period was initiated from mobile devices, with the iPhone
leading the way on 6.5%, followed by Android-based devices at 5.9% and the iPad with 5.3%.
As for social media, these platforms are not yet seen as genuine purchasing channels since
customers who were referred to an e-commerce site from a social network page generated
only 2.4% of total online sales in Q1, slightly up from the 1.7% figure recorded over for the
first quarter of 2011.

Criteria which go to make up customer experience

According to the IBM report, online retail sales are being driven to a great extent by
consumers’ positive customer experiences. ‘Convenience’ comes out top of the various
parameters, with 65.8% of all consumers polled who report a positive experience mentioning
this factor as important. In second place comes ‘value’ – with a 51.8% positive sentiment
rating – followed by ‘interaction’ (36.6%), and ‘deals’ (30.4%). IBM points out that these
criteria have a “high affinity” with the online channel, three of them being key advantages
offered by online sales sites. The figures are in turn corroborated by the factor that most
influences negative sentiment with regard to customer experience in general - product
availability (24.4%) - which is another aspect of e-commerce that generally works well.

Consumer goods lead the way

The segment showing the highest growth in online retail sales was Home Goods, with a
29.3% increase in first quarter 2012, closely followed by Health & Beauty products, whose
sales were up 28.8%. Online Apparel sites saw a 14.9% increase in sales, with sales at the
online sites of Department Stores also up by 20.4% in Q1. Online jewellery purchases also
showed momentum, with an 11.3% rise this year, while Office Supplies & Electronics
enjoyed rather less traction, rising just 6.6% over the first three months of 2012.