E-commerce spending surges

US e-commerce spending rose 13 percent in 2011 to a record $161.5 billion, an indication that Internet retailers are largely impervious to economic volatility.

Consumers increasingly shopped online, driven by convenience and price advantages. According to comScore, the best-performing online categories included digital content and subscriptions, jewelry and watches, consumer electronics, toys and hobbies, and computer software. Free shipping was also an important factor in e-commerce sales, comprising more than half of all transactions.

Smartphones and tablets additionally played a critical role in online and in-store shopping. More than half of smartphone users turn to their devices to conduct retail research while inside a store. By the end of 2011, nearly 20 percent of smartphone users scanned product barcodes, while nearly one in eight researched price comparison on their phones while in a store. The findings suggest potential synergies between Internet retailers and brick-and-mortar locations.

ComScore’s “2012 Mobile Future in Focus” report offers excellent insight on how mobile devices are impacting the online retail segment.

Lee Simmons

Lee Simmons is a business writer in Austin. He covers the technology and media industries for Hoover's and offers random musings on the state of entertainment (among other pressing issues) for Bizmology. Follow him at Twitter.

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