Jun 1, 2011

Four Ways Outdoor Companies Can Win Online Market Share

According to comScore’s State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy in Q1 2011, E-commerce hit the highest share of total retail sales yet seen — 8.6 percent — as online sales continue to gain share versus offline. After losing share of e-commerce sales for several quarters, smaller retailers have regained online market share from their largest peers in the last two quarters. When compared to the top 25 online sellers, all other retailers (both brick-and-mortar and pure-play) saw their share of total Internet sales increase to 32.3 percent in Q1 2011 from 30.1 percent in Q3 2010.

Similar trends are evident in the outdoor industry, as the percentage of outdoor products sold online continues to increase. Nearly one dollar in every ten spent on outdoor products is now spent online. In Q1 2011, online sales of outdoor products grew to 9.4 percent of total sales, up from 9.1 percent in Q1 2010, according to OIA VantagePoint data. As the online sales battle rages, here are four tips to help outdoor companies survive and thrive online:

  • Consider free shipping. Nearly half of all online transactions in the last two quarters included free shipping, the highest percentage ever seen, according to comScore.  Over 60 percent of consumers are at least “somewhat likely” to cancel their entire purchase if free shipping is not an option. 
  • Highlight value online but be wary of Groupons. Half of all consumers remain pessimistic around unemployment, and consumers in every income bracket are concerned about rising prices.  As consumers search for value, group buying and deal-of-the-day sites continue to flourish.  Industry leaders Groupon and Living Social have seen website traffic grow 250 percent and 182 percent, respectively.  But think carefully before using these sites.
  • Refocus technology expenditures and focus. A recent New York Times article highlighted some hard-learned technology considerations for small businesses to improve customer experiences.
  • Control Costs. Before every investment, both online and offline, remember that big companies got big by focusing on lowering costs.  Get into the habit of questioning every expense, no matter how small. If it does not add value or will not increase your bottom line, then look for a better way to spend money.