A Bright Spot Amid the Darkness
I’ve just returned from the eTail conference in Boston, and I got to say, the mood was pretty upbeat considering the economic news swirling around the event. A plummeting stock market, stagnant unemployment numbers, downgraded credit rating and talk of a double-dip recession seemed to be mere afterthoughts for those at the event. Heck, the only double-dip that internet retailers may be familiar with these days is scoops of ice cream as they celebrate their latest round of good news.
That good news came courtesy of comScore on Monday (the opening day of eTail), when it reported that online sales in the second quarter reached $37.5 billion, up 14 percent year-over-year. This represented the seventh consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and third consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. It's as if money was falling from the ceiling at the Boston Sheraton, host of this year's eTail show.
So the logical question is why does e-commerce continue to stand out as beacon of hope in an increasingly bleak situation? From the retailers I spoke with or heard speak at eTail, there’s a couple of factors at work here: One, consumers have become increasingly comfortable making purchases online. They’ve come to recognize the convenience that shopping online provides them and they trust that their transactions are being completed safely and securely.
Another driving force behind the growth of e-commerce is that consumers believe they can find great deals online. With free shipping offers now the norm and not the exception, the presence of comparison shopping engines, the explosion of daily-deal sites, the availability of coupons — not to mention the environmental benefits of shopping online or the fact that it saves consumers’ from spending money on gas — online shopping has come to be viewed as a bargain by many.