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 Thursday, 20th October 2011, 15:09:31

Ecommerce: Online sales market 'solid in September'

Ecommerce: Online sales market 'solid in September'

Ecommerce businesses and other online retailers have seen further increases to sales numbers with consumers increasingly deciding to reward their belt tightening with low-cost treats they have purchased via the internet.

The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index have revealed the sector continued to thrive during September, despite the economic downturn. Results show the index increased 15 per cent year on year and highlighted £5.5 billion in online sales.

Excluding the travel sector, the index increased by 20 per cent year on year, with the UK high street sustaining further difficulty as consumers struggle to afford luxuries. Recent figures from the British Retail Consortium sales monitor reveal real-life shopping experiences increased just 0.3 per cent compared with last year, in terms of value on a like-for-like basis.

David Smith, chief marketing and communications officer at IMRG, commented: "While consumer confidence in the online market was high in the first half (H1) of 2011, with the index recording growth of 19 per cent in H1 2010, there has been a slight dip in terms of the growth levels."

Although ecommerce businesses enjoyed a successful period during September, IMRG and Capgemini have reduced their original prediction of annual growth to 16 per cent, down from 18 per cent for 2011. This reflects a slowdown to the sector's growth, despite strong progress.

The home, garden and alcohol industries saw significant growth during September, along with clothing, which jumped 21 per cent year on year. For the second consecutive month, home and garden products saw a notable 40 per cent rise.

However, "big ticket" items, such as electricals and travel, did not perform as successfully in the current economic climate, falling 17 per cent month on month.

"The tough times for the travel sector are showing little sign of improving any time soon, with consumers focusing on home improvements rather than going on holiday," Mr Smith explained.

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, suggested that economic turbulence has affected the shopping habits of British consumers, with many people cutting down on expensive purchases but treating themselves to cheaper goods.

"Smaller items, such as clothing and items for the home, are considered rewards for our belt tightening, or just more sensible purchases," he added.

The quarterly results show significant disparity between "low ticket" and "big ticket" items, with clothing sales remaining consistently strong. A high number of people have started to purchase more lingerie this ear, with 29 per cent year-on-year growth between July and September.

Meanwhile, IT research firm Gartner predicted that companies will generate 50 per cent of their internet sales through their social presence and mobile applications by 2015. Speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, the company forecast ecommerce businesses to begin to offer new context-aware capabilities to be accessed through a browser or on a mobile phone.

Gene Alvarez, research vice president at Gartner, said: "Ecommerce organisations will need to scale up their operations to handle the increased visitation loads resulting from customers not having to wait until they are in front of a PC to obtain answers to questions or place orders."

The expert went on to suggest that this change could emerge as a result of customers demanding new and easy ways to interact with the companies they deal with, while urging firms to involve themselves with new innovations.

As a result of consumerisation, organisations in a range of industries are increasingly being affected by the growing importance of customer experience delivered within the retail space, with many consumers using their past involvement with websites to evaluate other products.

Gartner predicted that 80 per cent of ecommerce firms in the US and Europe will expand into Brazil, India, Africa, Russia or China by 2013.

Posted by Phil Williams

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Categories:  |  Ecommerce  |  

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