Online shopping has taken over. More and more brick and mortar stores have already integrated virtual shopping. The reality is that a majority of Americans prefer shopping online. This does not seem to change any time soon, and in fact, appears to be the way of the future. Physical locations have has to adjust and increase their online presence and offer more varied buying options for different products. While certain sectors of commerce have long made their impact on online shopping, new markets have emerged. Across the board, retail sales have increased online, and future outlook says the e-commerce trends will continue.
Despite the growth of e-commerce, grocery sales have mostly been the cornerstone of physical stores. In recent years, with the emerging popularity of meal kits, meal subscriptions, and home delivery services, retailers find that they need to change tactics. Supermarkets chains and department stores, like Walmart and Target, offer different options for delivery services. This includes both home delivery and the popular curbside pick up. It allows consumers to see what they purchase before taking it home. Shoppers have also become more trusting of retailers. In a report on supermarket sales, both meat and produce sales showed an increase of 66% and 85% respectively.
The biggest contender to online sales would be price. Most retailers offer better sales in-store, such as Walmart, to generate more foot traffic and to compete with virtual sellers. However, that doesn’t beat the convenience of shopping from home. There is fierce competition between retailers, particularly Walmart and Amazon, with Amazon grocery leading race. Their Prime Pantry service has the lowest prices of the main retail giants, with Walmart coming in second. Amazon has also integrated AmazonFresh while their Whole Foods acquisition, offering shoppers even better price cuts.
As for Walmart, the retail giant works to expand their grocery delivery services to more metropolitan areas. The company has created a system where its “personal shoppers” will collect produce after undergoing an extensive training for those tricky produce items. It also sells groceries on Jet.com, which they acquired specifically to tap the mobile and millennial shopper. Other retailers, such as FreshDirect, are also expanding their services. The delivery service began expanding its business in 2016, and launched its mobile app FoodKick for the mobile shopper which makes up 66% of its business.
It’s no wonder that the beauty industry has popularity in online retail. Social media, from YouTube to Instagram, has given the market affordable advertising. Both prestige brands, like Loreal and Estee Lauder, as well as newcomers have experienced a boost in sales from this marketing. The latter grows its brand as well as its audience, while more established names easily gain customers.
E-commerce makes up only 8.5% of all retail sales, but that number is only expected to grow.
Once again, the market is dominated by retailers Walmart and Amazon, with the former seeing a lead. That’s not accounting for the expansion of beauty retailer, Ulta, which, while opening stores, is also seeing increased sales online. There are plans to expand their product line to include the inexpensive brand, e.l.f Beauty cosmetics, which it hopes will expand its customer reach. Recently, they have taken on Mac Cosmetics drawing in more shoppers.
Despite the increased sales, prestige brands have found competition with lower priced brands due to availability across online channels. Not only are smaller independent brands offering lower prices, they cater to changes in consumer interests. More shoppers want to buy organic and turn toward those companies that provide products without harmful chemicals. Though the market is becoming saturated with newcomers, larger brands keep a close watch. Should an independent brand begin to rise in popularity, an established company will attempt to acquire them. The beauty industry has adapted to the changes of today’s shopper by finding a way to balance both physical stores and online presence.
While the fashion industry has done well online for quite some time, only recently has the jewelry sector made the shift to e-commerce. It has primarily remained traditional to brick and mortar stores and has experienced a decline over the years. Millennial shopping habits have shifted away from jewelry to more functional product purchases. However, the very technology that seems to take most of the attention away from diamonds and rings seems to be what it needs moving forward.
Retailers, such as Tiffany and Co., realize the need to change their marketing habits. As more people shop online, the less they are to spend their time in brick and mortar shops. But just like any other industry, the shift to e-commerce has its challenges. For fine jewelry, shoppers want to know of the authenticity of their gems, as well as be able to touch and feel them. While the latter cannot be recreated virtually, the former relies on creating trust with the consumer. Some companies use trusted e-commerce websites such as Etsy and Net-a-Porter. Others say that the success to selling online is transparency. Therefore, as consumers still may prefer to buy in-store, retailers still need to focus on their online presence. According to reports,
82% of shoppers check their phones before purchasing. Catering to this growing trend will ensure the growth of this sector into the future.
E-commerce is a booming industry and as more and more consumers shop online, industries will need to shift more toward the internet. Online shopping trends are only expected to increase, and may outgrow sales made by brick and mortar stores. The real future of every industry across the board may be the merger of both an in-store and online model. It would cater to digital trends, while also assuaging worries that consumers might have buying certain products. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the need for e-commerce in all retail sectors is a must as the digital age continues to dominate.