Driven by the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, ecommerce sales in the U.S. are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of ten percent in the next five years, according to a new report, "U.S. Online Retail Forecast, 2012 To 2017," from Forrester Research. Forrester predicts U.S. online retail sales will reach $262 billion in 2013, representing a 13.4 percent year-over-year growth from $231 billion last year, and will reach $370 billion by 2017.
Additionally, ecommerce is expected to generate eight percent of retail sales in the U.S. this year, and the growth is not coming from newbies, according to Forrester. The company expects only four million people to shop online for the first time in 2013. Growth, instead, will come from existing web shoppers spending more of their time and money online, and spending it on a variety of goods. Forrester notes that online loyalty programs such as Amazon Prime and ShopRunner are one driver, but the wider driver is that web shoppers are becoming more comfortable buying high-touch, high-consideration goods like furniture and appliances online. Forrester notes that online retail will continue to outpace the growth of physical retail stores in the U.S.
Furthermore, Forrester has found that the rise of smartphones and tablets is boosting the amount of time consumers spend online and generating more buying opportunities. The new report states that consumers are more likely to use their phones to research a purchase and to find the best price for a given item. Phones are not the lone driver of retail web traffic, Forrester shares, as virtually all retailers report that traffic to their sites from tablets spikes during evening prime-time hours, when consumers are in a leisure state of mind.
In addition, Forrester notes that traditional retailers have invested heavily in their web divisions, by offering hybrid online/offline capabilities such as in-store pickup for online purchases, which it says is also helping to grow ecommerce. The report states that ecommerce is helping to boost the U.S. jobs market, with Forrester and Shop.org estimating that ecommerce companies in the U.S. currently employ more than 400,000 individuals, and this is projected to reach 500,000+ by 2017.
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