Holiday e-commerce sales reach unprecedented levels

The 2017 holiday shopping season has continued to break records. Consumers began their shopping earlier than ever aided by the growing retailer trend of the pre-Black Friday sale. Despite it’s reputation as a retail-orientated shopping holiday, Black Friday brought in historic e-commerce sales.

Estimates from Adobe say consumers spent a little over $5 billion on Black Friday. On Thanksgiving Day, consumers spent $2.87 billion alone, which was up 18.3 percent from a year ago, according to the same estimates.

Cyber Monday also brought in historic numbers and showed double-digit growth from a year-over-year perspective.Consumers spent $6.59 billion, according to Bloomberg News, which showed a 17 percent increase on e-commerce spending.

M-commerce, which has quietly been growing throughout the years, played a large role in the holiday shopping narrative this season. On Black Friday, purchases made on mobile devices accounted for 37 percent of all sales which generated just under $2 billion in revenue, according to TechCrunch. Cyber Monday saw similar numbers. Revenue generated by mobile devices increased 31 percent year-over-year for $2 billion in sales, according to Digital Commerce 360.

As a whole, holiday shoppers have spent a record $89.88 billion online from Nov. 1 to Dec. 17, which is a 13 percent year-over-year growth, according to data from Adobe. Adobe originally predicted to online sales would reach $107.4 billion through Dec. 31, which is expected to be reached at the current rate of online sales.

Online Holiday Sales

 

Outside of e-commerce, holiday spending in total has reached decade-high levels. American shopping intentions this holiday, on average, will top $900, according to a survey conducted by CNBC. The average is higher at a large margin than last year’s $702 and is the first time in the survey’s 12 years that the average broke $900.

Dirxion online catalogs offer businesses the ability to tap into shopping trends and habits during both the holiday season and throughout the year. Dirxion online catalogs also serve as a complementary product to any e-commerce operation. Both versatile and optimized with HTML5, Dirxion online catalogs ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met.

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Extensions of m-commerce have difficulty catching on in some areas

M-commerce has continued to evolve in recent months as consumers experiment with how the technology fits into their purchasing habits. M-commerce has grown over time, with an increasing number of consumers using their mobile devices to research and make online orders.

However, certain branches of m-commerce have yet to be embraced by consumers in Western countries, where the technology is relatively new. For instance, 56 percent of consumers in the U.S. don’t prefer mobile payment methods, according to a survey conducted by Kantar TNS.

Mobile payments, often referred to as “mobile money,” allow consumers to make payments from their phone, most popularly by tapping the phone to a card reader. They often come in the form of platforms in which the mobile device holds credit or debit card information to act in lieu of that card. Companies such as Apple, Android, Mastercard and Paypal all offer mobile payments.

Many mobile payment platforms require specific receptors, which often must be purchased and installed by retailers, in order to properly make a purchase. The willingness and ability of vendors to install these receptors is currently the biggest barrier of entry for mobile payments to properly enter the market. Apple Pay is currently the most accepted mobile payment, with 36 percent of American retailers accepting it. However, for many other payment methods, retailers are choosing to wait and see how the market acts before making the adjustments.

There are certain markets however, who don’t follow the trend of resistance towards mobile payment platforms. Estimations from eMarketer predicts nearly 78 percent of smartphone users in China will use a mobile payment platform in 2018. Of the 56 countries surveyed in the Kantar TNS survey, only China and Mongolia had a majority of participants say they prefer to use mobile payments at 64 and 63 percent respectively.

Dirxion offers app development for both the Google Play and iTunes stores. Within the apps, customers are able to view a business’s online catalogs or download them for offline viewing. Dirxion can also integrate online catalogs into an existing application. Companies without a dedicated e-commerce mobile app benefit from an audience built from a Dirxion online catalog app. Companies have a direct avenue to a captive audience of customers via push notifications which can inform of new catalog releases, upcoming sales and other pertinent company news.

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E-commerce investment pays off for Walmart

Following a summer of acquisitions and growth from Amazon, a larger narrative began to form for legacy retailers. They were viewed as stagnate and doomed to fall to the growing e-commerce market. However, shifts in business strategy coupled with a newfound omni-channel blend has lead to encouraging results for big-box retailers. Walmart has been one of the major companies leading the charge into this new, e-commerce-fueled era.

Walmart, who recently re-adjusted their e-commerce strategy, showed their ability to aggressively compete with Amazon. Recent earnings and growth have left many market analysts feeling as if they underestimated the legacy retailer’s ability to build a presence on the e-commerce market.

As part of their new strategy, Walmart went on an acquisition spree similar to Amazon’s. To start, Walmart purchased Jet.com, an American e-commerce company, for $3 billion in August of last year. According to a press release on Walmart’s official website, the acquisition was intended to build upon Walmart’s existing e-commerce foundation and expand upon their efforts to integrate their online and in-store shopping experience. Walmart bought other “e-commerce-friendly” companies such as ModCloth, Shoebuy and Bonobos.

“Walmart.com will grow faster, the seamless shopping experience we’re pursuing will happen quicker, and we’ll enable the Jet brand to be even more successful in a shorter period of time. Our customers will win. It’s another jolt of entrepreneurial spirit being injected into Walmart.” – Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The aggressive acquisitions have paid off for the legacy retailer, as Walmart recently reported online sales were up 50 percent for Q3. Following such growth, Walmart has looked to continue to expand their e-commerce efforts. The company has been experimenting with new ways to integrate Walmart.com with their physical stores.

Walmart now offers lower in-store prices for food and household items, according to the Wall Street Journal. For instance, a 32-ounce bottle of Heinz ketchup which is $3.38 online costs $2.83 in-store. Additionally, Walmart now offers free two-day shipping on orders over $35 and self-service “Pickup Towers” for customers picking up online orders in-store.

Heinz Ketchup

 

Walmart and other large legacy retailers are now pursuing omni-channel routes to combine their offline and online sales efforts. However, these methods and strategies aren’t exclusive to large conglomerates. Dirxion online catalogs give both retail and B2B companies a tool to create an omni channel approach for their businesses and aids any e-commerce operation. Both versatile and optimized with HTML5, Dirxion online catalogs ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met.
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Consumers, aided by e-commerce, began their holiday shopping earlier than ever

For some Americans, the holiday shopping season begins on Black Friday. But for many others, e-commerce and pre-Black Friday online deals have continued to push holiday shopping earlier and earlier in November. Earlier in November, Adobe predicted holiday shoppers would spend $107 billion during the holiday season (officially Nov. 1-Dec. 31). At this point in time, U.S. shoppers are on pace to spend $109 billion.

Holiday Shopping

 

E-commerce holiday shopping on Black Friday could even generate more sales than Cyber Monday, the traditional day most businesses and consumers allocated for online deals. Last year, Black Friday generated $3.34 billion in online sales which was just below the $3.45 billion generated by Cyber Monday sales. However, from a growth standpoint, Black Friday online sales have increased at a much faster rate than Cyber Monday. According to more data collected by Adobe, Black Friday online sales have grown by 21 percent whereas Cyber Monday online sales have grown by 12 percent year over year.

“Holiday online shopping continues to trend earlier and earlier each year, with this year eclipsing last year by about a week” – Bob Buffone, Founder & Chief Technology Officer at Yottaa

Consumers and Mobile

Mobile devices continue to play a role in the e-commerce market well into the holiday season. Projections from Salesforce indicate smartphone traffic will generate 60 percent of online traffic to retail sites during the holiday season.Additionally, conversion rates for mobile devices are expected to rise during the holiday season. Mobile devices will account for $1 of every $4 made from e-commerce sales, according to comScore. The majority of purchases made on mobile devices are expected to be smaller, less-expensive items whereas larger purchases will be made on desktop or larger electronic devices, as predicted by Kevin Bobowski, senior vice president of BrightEdge.

Dirxion online catalogs offer businesses the ability to tap into shopping trends and habits during both the holiday season and throughout the year. Dirxion online catalogs also serve as a complementary product to any e-commerce operation. Both versatile and optimized with HTML5, Dirxion online catalogs ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met.

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E-commerce sales grow for online catalogs customer MSC Industrial Supply

Recently, MSC Industrial Supply announced strong Q2 results highlighted by increases in net sales (2.9% year-over-year), operating income (7.6%) and diluted earnings per share of $0.93, which exceeded expectations. A majority of this revenue, 57.8% of it, was accounted for by e-commerce operations.

This is a growing trend for MSC, whose e-commerce has been a significant chunk of its revenue for a few years now (it was 55.4% in the year-earlier quarter). According to Digital Commerce 360, mscdirect.com, the company’s e-commerce site, is No. 97 in the B2B E-Commerce 300, a list that ranks companies on their annual Internet sales.

The same article points out that CEO Erik Gershwind said that MSC will continue to invest in its e-commerce, by adding about 150,000 product SKUs in the current fiscal year and expanding above 1 million SKUs available online.

Dirxion is proudly involved in buffering MSC’s e-commerce performance through the creation, linking and customization of the company’s online catalogs. The primary project that Dirxion and MSC build together is its Virtual Big Book, a full collection of MSC’s product SKUs organized and displayed through over 4,000 print catalog pages.

Each product number in the catalogs are linked directly to MSC’s e-commerce pages, with an iFrame of the product page displaying the corresponding information directly in the online catalogs interfaces. The image below shows the iFrame view opened on a desktop computer.

MSC Industrial Supply Online Catalog

 

Uniquely displayed on their website pages, the Virtual Big Book is embedded in a tab pull-out that can be found on the left-hand side. This custom presentation is enabled by custom coding created and shared among Dirxion and MSC’s website developers. The embed is made easier via HTML5 rather than Adobe Flash technology, which Dirxion successfully moved away from four years ago.

MSC does a great job of maintaining fast-loading e-commerce pages, in spite of such a large database from which to pull information. The same standards of speed and loading efficiency are applied to its online catalogs.

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Consumers use e-commerce websites to supplement their offline shopping needs

Growth in the e-commerce market has given customers a variety of avenues to acquire their favorite products. For businesses, however, it’s hard to analyze exactly where their sales come from and whether or not an online and brick-and-mortar presence can be mutually beneficial to future growth.

Consumers are moving toward a blend of offline shopping supplemented by a period of online research. While online sales have been on the rise, only 15 percent of Americans make purchases online on a weekly basis, according to a study from the PEW Research Center. About 45 percent of Americans have used a cellphone within a physical store in order to look at reviews or other product information. Consumers have long relied on the ability to get recommendations and reviews, hence the rise of websites like Yelp! and FourSquare.

 

On the other hand, some consumers are more skeptical than others when it comes to the validity of online reviews. According to the same PEW Research Study,48 percent of U.S. consumers believe it’s often hard to tell if online reviews are truthful and unbiased.Consumers more often than not will use websites to compare prices and products and then visit stores to get a reassurance of product quality before committing to a purchase. Even if shoppers don’t directly purchase from a website, businesses benefit from empowering their customers with the tools to do their own research and be confident in their purchase.

Such buying habits don’t necessarily adhere strictly along generational lines. A study conducted by RetailDive found 26 percent of U.S. adults frequently research products online prior to shopping for them in brick-and-mortar stores. The report then emphasizes the importance of a “compelling digital experience.” Certain things can improve the customer’s researching or shopping experience to create a seamless omni-channel shopping experience.

Dirxion online catalogs give businesses a strong tool to allow their customers to do their own research. The search feature allows users to find the exact product they’re looking for without having to search through tabs and pages of results. Dirxion’s integration capabilities can bring a business’s existing e-commerce website into the catalog. Customers are able to interact with linked images that open to Quick Views or iFrames of the e-commerce site. Customers can then read pictures, look through photos and even add to their cart without having to leave the online catalog.

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Updated bookshelf search streamlines B2B online catalogs experience

Dirxion customer Barnett recently implemented the updated library search function, which allows customers to choose whether or not they want to search through their current catalog or the entire catalog. The previous version of the search feature would require two different tabs: one to search the catalog and a separate one to search through the entire library.

Barnett Catalog

The library search feature was originally designed to streamline the catalog shopping experience. B2B e-commerce consumers respond positively to an easy-to-use shopping experience, raising the probability they’ll convert to a loyal consumer. According to E-Commerce B2B, 76 percent of customers say the most important factor in a website’s design is that “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.”

The updated bookshelf feature empowers consumers and aids them through the research process of B2B buying. Usability Geek describes the relationship between design and consumers as being “more focused around the content and information, making sure the user stays informed throughout their entire journey.” With the large quantities of data involved with B2B e-commerce, it’s important to implement features that allow new and seasoned consumers alike to navigate online catalogs with ease.

Product research has increasingly shifted online. Forrester estimates74 percent of B2B buyers research half or more of their work purchases online. But consumers aren’t just researching in a singular place. While Google remains the most popular option for purchase research, consumers will go to multiple points in the web to compare prices, products and other deciding factors. Empowering consumers and giving them the tools to conduct their own research in an easy-to-use and streamlined way increases the likelihood of converting new customers to returning, loyal ones.

Dirxion has consistently been the leading innovator in the online catalogs industry. As the first company to move their online catalogs to HTML5, Dirxion has since then never ceased to set precedents and industry standards for the online catalogs experience. With Dirxion features such as Quick View integration, minimal UI and, most recently, an improved library search, Dirxion has continued its tradition of industry revolution and the promise of delivering a personalized, on-brand online catalog.

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Google and Facebook duopoly force change in online advertising industry

Facebook and Google provide high ROI and easy-to-manage online advertising options for thousands of businesses but have put the pressure on advertising agencies of all sizes to innovate. The duopoly is now predicted to attract 60 percent of all online advertising spending in 2017, according to eMarketer.

87 percent of the $26 billion in revenue this quarter from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, came from online advertising. Facebook reached similar numbers netting $9.3 billion this quarter with 98 percent of that coming from online advertising, according to Wired. Other large tech corporations haven’t achieved such success as Twitter reportedly lost two million high-value users for advertisers and Snap’s stock went on a downward slope since going public.

Digital Ad Revenue
Google and Facebook have positioned themselves at the front of this demand curve by being the ad publishers with some of the best-in-class targeting abilities in the digital ad market. With Facebook being able to provide targeting based upon consumer interests and Google capitalizing on where those consumers have been through searches, both companies ensure their lead among digital ad publishers.” –Monica Peart, eMarketer senior director of forecasting

Advertisers and ad agencies are looking for new ways to combat the duopoly, mostly by questioning current advertising practices and techniques. Many marketers are pushing for fee reduction on agency services, which would give some agencies a competitive edge. Facebook ads currently cost nearly 25 percent more than they did a year ago. But Facebook and Google both benefit from their large user base, allowing for highly-detailed analytics reports and competitive targeted ad targeting technology.

The growth of the online ad agency has brought fraudulent online advertising practices to light. Also known as “spoofing”, fraudulent online advertising practices use third-party ad exchange websites to sell advertising space directly to high-value sites. However, the ad would actually lead to a low-value, low-traffic site. In addition, Facebook recently banned certain online advertisers who used “cloaking methods” which send users to unauthorized websites that passed through Facebook’s screening process.

For e-commerce businesses, growing their websites through organic traffic is sustainable in the long-run, cuts costs that would be used to purchase advertising space and raises traffic at a higher rate than a PPC program would. Dirxion online catalogs offer SEO guide pages that involves a process of indexing every page of the printed catalog. This practice helps boost the overall SEO of the online catalogs site, as well as increase the likelihood of someone finding a catalog page when searching a company’s brand name. In addition, Dirxion online catalogs offer a variation of ad platform services for customers through widgets. The widgets, which come in a variation of sizes and implementations, can be either integrated into an existing advertising program or the customer can sell space directly to customers without having to use an external advertising service. 

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ESPN changes audience metrics to match shift toward online advertising

ESPN’s restructuring phase continues as their focus continually shifts towards the presence of digital audiences and online advertising in mind. ESPN, owned by Disney, will now track TV and digital viewership from Nielsen Total Audience as one metric, as reported by Business Insider. As the first media company to sign such a deal, it will take ESPN three weeks to receive the data from Nielsen.

Online advertising has yet to find solid ground as large corporations have yet to discover if their platforms can be both effective and simultaneously deliver a high ROI for online advertisements. Because of this, marketers and advertisers have yet to abandon TV advertising en masse. Yet online advertising spending continues to grow. National TV ad sales have dropped 1.4 percent on average in 2017 while U.S. digital advertising alone is expected to rise by 14 percent, according to media research firm Magna.

By tracking digital and TV viewership as one unit, ESPN can treat the two as one unit, effectively changing the way advertising is sold on digital platforms. ESPN previously offered different services for advertisers depending on the platform. Combining the two metrics will increase the accuracy of analytics reporting for ESPN, but according to Michael Zimbalist, Chief Marketing Officer of Simulmedia, “with each passing day, TV advertising becomes more and more like digital. The reason is data.”

“Zimbalist shares a study released by Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and president of the Advertising Research Foundation, which found that out of 3,200 ad campaigns, TV advertising was ‘the most effective vehicle for driving ROI, and adding digital to a TV campaign yields a 60% kicker effect.'” – Forbes, 2016

Advertisers continually search for avenues in which their target audiences participate and spend their time in. As consumers spend more time consuming media online advertisers have followed suit by allocating more and more of their budgets into digital platforms. Companies that develop precise targeting capabilities for advertisers, also known as “ad techs”, now spend more money developing for digital mobile display than any other platform. Such spending is expected to top $20 billion by this year and reach roughly $38.5 billion by 2020, according to Business Insider.

US Programmatic Revenue

 

Dirxion online catalogs offer a variation of ad platform services for customers through widgets. The widgets, which come in a variation of sizes and implementations, can be either integrated into an existing advertising program or the customer can sell space directly to customers without having to use an external advertising service.

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E-commerce creates new jobs for workers and opportunities for businesses, studies find

The effects of e-commerce on the economy, specifically within the retail market, have remained little more than speculation for the past few years. Most theories on the future of e-commerce sit somewhere between a trend which will eventually pass and a period of the “retail apocalypse” which signifies an end for legacy retailers.

However, new studies have suggested that reality sits somewhere in the middle. While synergy between e-commerce infrastructures and existing business models lies within view, especially for B2B businesses, the future of the retail worker remains somewhat uncertain. Certain indicators and trends point towards new opportunities for both businesses and workers alike.

Often the spearhead of the e-commerce and automation movement, recent trends within Amazon indicate a growing number of e-commerce-related jobs specifically within distribution networks. Amazon currently deploys 100,000 robots and 125,000 employees in their factories with promises of opening 50,000 more jobs when their second headquarters finishes construction, according to the New York Times. Since increasing their automation with robots Amazon added 80,000 jobs with hopes the hiring frenzy will continue into the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No people were laid off when the robots were installed, and Amazon found new roles for the displaced workers.”
– Dave Clark, Operations Executive at Amazon

Trends tend to exercise themselves on a larger scale at Amazon mostly due to their size and expansive resources, e-commerce-related job growth isn’t exclusive to larger corporations. E-commerce retail jobs have grown by 334 percent and gained a net 178,000 jobs since 2002. E-commerce sales remain less than 10 percent of total retail, 8.9 percent as of Q2 2017, yet all trends point towards sustainable growth in the near future with opportunities for both businesses and workers.

 

 

 

 

 

Whether utilizing an established infrastructure or just starting to implement e-commerce, Dirxion offers tools and services for businesses of all types. The Dirxion online catalog gives businesses an opportunity to differentiate their shopping experience and engage in the omni-channel experience. Dirxion online catalogs are versatile and optimized with HTML5 to ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met. Dirxion online catalogs can be integrated into existing e-commerce platforms and live directly on a company’s website to ensure a seamless, optimized shopping experience for customers.Dirxion Contact Us