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.