Holiday sales are up 15% to a record $32 billion so far. And you have to stop and wonder why the numbers are growing so quickly… After all Amazon isn’t new. It isn’t like people weren’t comfortable with online shopping last year or the year before.
One theory is that free shipping by a number of retailers as well as the more recent free reverse shipping for returns has led shoppers to be more comfortable with the web as a shopping vehicle. Then there is mobile. With tablets and smartphones galore, more and more potential customers are shopping at brick and mortar locations with their iPad under their arms and opting for ecommerce perhaps because of price or inventory issues. An example is seeing a sweater you like in black but learning that the retailer doesn’t have it in your size. Instead you try on the orange color to make sure the size is right and then go online to get the seater you want.
If you are a retailer, there is certainly cause for concern but I get the sense many are learning the online ropes and have achieved great enough scale to be profitable even after eating the shipping charges in both directions.
And this chasm had to be crossed and quickly because Amazon is coming on even stronger with a Price Check app that makes it even easier for shoppers to buy from the online mega-retailer by just scanning a bar code at a local retailer. This app has created quite a stir among retailers but there doesn’t seem to be much that they can do about it.