Department Stores, Offline Names Carry Online Shopping Load

Online shoppers spent more than $6 billion this holiday season, according to BizRate.com, with more than 52 million orders placed online between Nov. 20 and Dec. 26, 2000.

BizRate’s estimate represents a 60 percent increase from the comparative period one year ago, when total holiday sales for the Web reached $3.75 billion and online orders neared 38 billion (for the period spanning Nov. 22 through Dec. 26, 1999).

“Last year, the story was how consumers were stung by e-tailers poor planning. This year, consumers are the winners because e-tailers sat up, listened, and met expectations,” said Chuck Davis, president and CEO of BizRate.com. “What is important this year is that e-tailers were able to deliver on their promises — including on-time shipment and customer support. As a result, many businesses were rewarded with repeat customers as satisfied shoppers returned later in the season for additional gift purchases.”

As proof of this, BizRate says the holiday sales peak arrived five days later this season, when merchants rang up a record-breaking $254 million in sales on Dec. 18.

On-time delivery, which in 1999 was ranked last in BizRate’s audit of customer satisfaction, leapt to third place this year. In fact, more than eight out of 10 purchases, or 88 percent of online orders, were delivered on time (for the period from Nov. 20 through Dec. 15, 2000). Last year’s full holiday season’s on-time delivery rate was 74 percent.

Retail categories experiencing the highest level of growth in sales compared with holiday 1999 included Home and Garden (+277.1 percent), Toys (+158.5 percent), and Food and Wine (+77.4 percent), according to BizRate.com. Entertainment goods (including CDs, videos, and DVDs) remained the retail leader in popularity among Web shoppers, representing a quarter of all online transactions (excluding services such as travel) for the holiday season.

For the first time, women made up the majority of holiday shoppers (56 percent, compared with 50 percent in 1999), BizRate found.

“The 200 holiday season will best be remembered for the onslaught of brick-and-mortar stores,” said Sean Kaldor, VP of eCommerce at NetRatings. “Strong brand awareness, millions of loyal customers, and proven retailing savvy led to the success of brick and mortars this year.”

Amazon.com and Toys R Us, together through their alliance, dominated Nielsen//NetRatings’ Top 15 Holiday Season E-Tailers, with more than five times as many shopping trips as their next closest competitor. The largest brick-and-mortar retailer is Dell, followed very closely by Barnes & Noble.

As in the offline world, department stores led shopping activity online as well. More than half of the top 15 e-tailers are virtual department stores, meaning they sell products from a wide range of categories.

“Online shopping this season mirrored the trend for traditional retailers as the popularity of virtual department stores dominated other product categories,” Kaldor said. “Web consumers favored the huge selections and the time savings offered by virtual department stores, as they flocked to sites such as Amazon.com, BlueLight.com, Buy.com, JCPenney.com, Sears.com, Target.com, uBid.com, and Walmart.com throughout the season.”


Top 15 Holiday Season E-Tailers
Nov. 5 to Dec. 24
Rank Site Shopping
Visits
1. Amazon.com & Toys R Us 122,996,842
2. eToys.com 21,120,709
3. Dell.com 21,001,245
4. Barnes & Noble 20,248,728
5. cdnow.com 20,019,849
6. Walmart.com 18,007,889
7. hp.com 15,634,552
8. buy.com 14,527,981
9. jcpenney.com 14,463,598
10. bestbuy.com 12,482,813
11. hallmark.com 12,362,816
12. bluelight.com 12,211,428
13. uBid.com 11,798,569
14. sears.com 11,176,947
15. target.com 11,157,504
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

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