The future of ecommerce looks bright. After topping $200 billion for the first time, online retail sales in the U.S. are forecast to reach $327 billion by 2016, a study from technology and market research firm Forrester says. Overall share of the retail market is expected to increase from 7% to 9% during that period.
What’s driving the growth? More consumers are shopping online every day. Last year, 167 million consumers — 53% of the U.S. population — purchased something online. That number is expected to grow to 192 million, or 56% of the population, by 2016. The study also projects that consumers’ average yearly online spending will increase from $1,207 per person in 2011 to $1,738 per person by 2016.
Consumers are also becoming increasingly comfortable purchasing a wider variety of categories online. In a 2001 survey, Forrester found only three of the 30 retail categories were able to attribute more than 20% of sales to online channels. That number grew to eight categories in 2011, and is expected to increase to 14 categories by 2016.
U.S. shoppers are also now finding it easier to shop than ever before, thanks to improvements in mobile and tablet shopping capabilities. Innovative shopping models and loyalty programs — think flash sales sites like Gilt and Woot as well as subscription loyalty programs like Amazon Prime — and aggressive promotions are drawing sales away from brick-and-mortar operations. This was especially true during big discount periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, during which approximately 75% of consumers said they shopped online because the deals were better.
Meanwhile, online sales in Europe are expected to amount to 171 billion euros ($230 billion) in Europe by 2016 up from 96.7 billion euros ($130 billion) in 2011, according to Forrester’s estimates.http://mashable.com/2012/02/27/ecommerce-327-billion-2016-study/