US online sales spiked to unprecedented numbers in 2014. The US is no stranger to online sales, but the ratio of eCommerce sales compared to brick-and-mortar retail sales has been increasing every year.
A new report from Search Laboratory highlights the changes and trends seen last year alone.
General Internet Usage Statistics
The United States has a total population of 316 million, and 78.3% of them have a home subscription to an internet service. This figure means that around 247 million US residents have internet access in their own homes.
Even more people use the internet on a daily basis at home, school, work or at a public access point. 84% of Americans claimed they used the internet daily, which is actually slightly lower than the percentage in the UK (84.1%) and Australia (89.8%) but still represents a higher number of overall people.
E-Commerce Trends in 2014
There were some telling trends in online shopping in 2014.
The most popular online goods sold were either electronic/appliance related or apparel. The breakdown was as follows:
- Electronics and appliances — 21.93%
- Apparel and fashion accessories — 20.93%
- Vehicles and auto parts — 9.84%
- Media (books/games/music/video) — 9.42%
- Furniture and home goods — 7.8%
- Toys and hobby — 5.05%
- Health and personal care products — 4.82%
- Office supplies and equipment — 3.08%
- Food and beverages — 2.24%
- Everything else — 14.83%
Overall, 78% of US internet users agreed to the statement that “shopping online was a convenient option.” eCommerce sales were fairly evenly spread across all age demographics. 18-64 year olds had the most consistent share of purchases while teens 14-17 and 65+ adults had slightly lower numbers.
Most surprising, a 2008 survey found that while about 78% of families and individuals with an annual household income $100,000 or less agreed that online shopping was convenient, this statistic increased with those with an annual income of over $100k. While that statistic may have been a sign of the times, it does point to a higher incidence of affluent buyers shopping for goods online.
Motivated to Buy
Recent data has proven that Americans prefer to support regional businesses. 76% of Americans looked for a product that was “American, not foreign” and 75% of shoppers were more likely to buy a product that has manufacturing plants in their home state.
In addition, over half of all shoppers used coupon codes when they were shopping online in 2014, according to emarketer.com. And that number is only set to increase in 2015. Coupons are a quick, easy way to bring in consumers, many of which are still feeling the effects of the recession, and are easily the most essential marketing tool to have in your repertoire.
Americans Like Gauging Product Opinions Before Purchasing Online
One overwhelming preference Americans had for shopping online was that product reviews were available. 78% of all US shoppers indicated that online reviews helped guide their eCommerce purchase decisions. 43% of all shoppers became frustrated at a lack of available information for a product that they were interested in.
Not only do Americans prefer reviews, they also seem to want someone to digest and analyze all of the information for them. 32% became confused by conflicting or inconsistent product information and 30% were simply overwhelmed by the amount of information available.
eCommerce vendors should take the last point to heart by offering a “snapshot” of public opinions on a product. Popular methods of accomplishing this include a discrete rating system (i.e. 1-5 stars), and an average rating display.
Sites like Amazon.com have been successful by allowing users to select whether or not a review was helpful and then highlighting the most favored positive and critical reviews. Providing a blurb from a professional reviewer like a magazine or website also helps buyers get a sense of the product’s quality and usefulness.
Customer Data Security
Most Americans prefer being able to pay for items with a debit or credit card, yet 75% of internet users stated that they were uncomfortable with giving out personal information or credit card numbers online.
eCommerce businesses can comfort their customers by providing secure checkout options that do not require financial information re-entry. Examples include PayPal, Google Wallet and the new Apple Pay. However, be aware that these services may charge additional fees and have varying preferences by users.
Another key indicator of security is a logo indicating some level of data protection. 86% of online consumers claimed that they searched for a logo that proved the site’s security to decide if a website is trustworthy. Logos for security products like VeriSign and TRUSTe give shoppers a level of comfort. 83% of customers also enjoy seeing that the online retailer offers an assurance of secure processing and information protection on the checkout page.
All of this information should be able to provide your eCommerce business with insight into how to effectively reach American online shoppers. For more advice on how to help your eCommerce deals reach more people, please visit our website.