E-commerce: Continuing to gain share in a recession

The reported e-commerce growth rate of 11% (from today’s Retail Wire discussion) is actually slower than it’s been for awhile–more evidence of a recession–but at least it’s showing an increase. We’ve all talked about the share growth of e-commerce being triggered by 24-hour convenience and improved execution by web retailers (in-stocks, assortments, ease of navigation). These are all factors continuing to drive e-commerce sales, but there may be a couple of new issues at play:

1. The search for value: With the proliferation of online sales and special offers, e-coupons and the like, it’s become a more efficient process to “find a deal” online after comparison shopping.

2. The need for time: Consumers dealing with other pressures in their lives, including the need to secure themselves economically, have less time for discretionary shopping. The web becomes the beneficiary of the “search for essentials.”

3. The shrinking store base: Think about the number of nameplates that have disappeared just in the past six months, including Linens n’ Things (I know they’re still online), Mervyns and Steve & Barry’s just to name a few. There are frankly fewer bricks & mortar options, driving more sales to the most accessible option…e-commerce.

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