Is E-Commerce Changing the Way You Shop?

As the leaves begin to turn the fiery colors of fall, the holiday season is fast approaching. Where are you planning on doing your shopping? Will you head to the mall for the classic holiday-hullabaloo or will you sit in your pajamas with your computer or tablet in the comforts of your own home?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more and more people are skipping the mall and choosing online shopping forums, especially during the holiday season. Check out the full report here if you are interested.

E-commerce on the Rise
E-commerce has been on a consistent, steady rise starting in 2003 and is still going strong. The end of the fourth quarter of 2012 showed total e-commerce retail sales to be $59.5 billion after being adjusted for seasonal variation. Total retail sales (which would include e-commerce) for the fourth quarter of 2012 were estimated at $1,106.8 billion, meaning that e-commerce accounted for 5.4% of total 2012 retail sales, increasing 15.6% from the fourth quarter of 2011.

This graph portrays the steady rise in e-commerce sales from the first quarter in 2003 to the fourth quarter of 2012. As you can see, there is also a consistent spike in sales during the fourth quarter as it includes the holiday season. This spike has been increasing gradually as time progresses.

Is E Commerce Changing the Way You Shop? image ecommerce sales graphIs E Commerce Changing the Way You Shop?

So What Does This Mean?
There are a lot of numbers here. If you are like me you are not a big fan of “a lot of numbers” so let’s translate the contents of this graph into my good friend “words”:

E-commerce sales are slowly but surely taking over total retail sales. The percentage of e-commerce sales is increasing at a much higher rate than retail sales in general meaning that while helping boost total retail sales, e-commerce is also eating away at in-store sales, transforming our consumer experiences. If the current trends continue, e-commerce sales will continue to rise as a percentage of total retail sales, poising for a total takeover in the future.

A Shopping Revolution
Not only does this mean we are changing the way that we are shopping, it means we are changing (or need to change) the way we are selling. Consumers choose online shopping forums rather than in-store shopping because A. it is often cheaper and B. it can be a major time saver. Consumers have also adopted the “showrooming” approach, meaning they go into the store but bring their mobile devices along and compare in store prices to those of other stores online, many times ending up making the purchase from another vender using an online forum while still in-store. The ease of online shopping is contributing to the e-commerce takeover that the U.S. Department of Commerce is reporting.

What Do You Think?
Where do you do the majority of your shopping? Are you a savvy e-commerce shopper or do you prefer the traditional in-store experience, or both? Comment below with your online or in-store shopping habits. Let us know what you think of the rise in e-commerce sales from either consumer or business perspectives.

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