There was a time when everyone went to the mall to shop. Brick and mortar was the only choice and stores were crowded as a result. When online shopping first appeared, people were skeptical and weary of providing their credit cardinformation or trusting any part of the process. Amazon was making some strides early on with gaining market share, but the appetite for the Internet and shopping had not yet caught on.
Those first transactions officially began in 1994, a year before Amazon opened its doors. What prompted most of the shopping from home that year was catalog and TV shopping channel purchases over the phone. Incredibly, that year, there were 98 million consumers who purchased $60 billion of goods from home. Calling an 800-number was the first foray into shopping from home before the real concept of ecommerce exploded.
The Internet was still largely a mystery to many back then and the equipment used to connect to the Internet was not commonly understood. Electronic shopping malls were soon to follow and ecommerce became more accepted in the subsequent two decades.
By the fourth quarter of 1999, ecommerce sales had hit $5.3 billion.
Online Sales Explode
During 2018, the end-of-the-year holiday season saw sales up 5.1 percent over the previous year to $850 billion. This was the best season in six years. Sales over the Internet increased 19.1 over 2017.
In addition to the convenience that online purchasing offers; lowered tax rates, low unemployment and lower gas costs also spurred the increases sales numbers.
The big winners were clothing and home improvement items. Home Depot Inc and Lowe’s saw sales increase by 9 percent along with their counterparts in that sector. Electronics were off slightly after enjoying some spectacular years.
Conversely, department store sales were down and growth was only at an anemic 1.3 to two-percent during the past three years. Store closures helped to weigh down this number.
Brick and mortar store’s Internet sales still remained strong though. Many people conduct all of their shopping online and skip the check-out lines and crowds. That is the trend and the discounts, convenience and assortment offered online is winning out.
Several retailers have adopted a hybrid mode where customers can order off of their websites and pick up the items locally at a retail outlet. Large retailers like Walmart and Target have increased utilization of this one-off ecommerce practice and Walmart has even added grocery shopping to the mix. These pickup sales have increased by 47 percent over 2017, according to Adobe Analytics.
The 2018 holiday season was the best for online retailer Amazon, according to the company’s Worldwide Consumer Division CEO, Jeff Wilke.
With consumer confidence remaining high and competition leading to lower prices, retail sales have seen a banner year. For ecommerce, the trend over the past 25 years has been towards more acceptance, more participation and more ease-of-use.