Analyst forecasts double-digit growth for online retail

10th Mar 2010

Marketers must develop a multichannel sales and marketing strategy to take advantage of double digit growth in online retail business over the next five years, according to Forrester Research.

This is not least because nearly four in ten Western European shoppers now start their research online when making a considered purchase and via a mix of channels, which include social networking sites, and devices ranging from PCs to mobile phones. But more than a third subsequently employ a broader mix of online and offline channels before buying anything.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, said that much of the growth in the retail sector over the next five years would be generated online. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 11%, making it worth E114 billion by 2014.

While about 35% of Western European adults shopped online last year, the figure is expected to rise to nearly 50% in five year’s time, with numbers increasing to 190 million from 141 million today. They will spend an average of E483 per year, up from E601 now.

But to exploit such growth effectively, ebusiness professionals will have to "help enable a multichannel strategy that responds to consumers' increased desire to hope between the offline and online worlds and their increasing mobile and social behaviours" Mulpuru said.

This meant that "retail innovators" would need to "demonstrate customer enablement across all touch points, not just via a PC-based web browser," she added.

The most popular online purchase is currently books (27% of the overall total), followed by tickets for events (18%) and clothing (17%). The least popular, however, were cars and office supplies.

Women now make up about 48% of such shoppers compared with 52% of males, while the typical online consumer is slightly more educated, has a higher income and is more likely to work full-time than the average.

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