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Ongoing disruption: the growing dominance of online retail

by Norbert Herzog , 28.08.2018

Customers are increasingly asking for omni-channel shopping. Our FutureBuy study indicates an increasing preference of online retail and mobile shopping around the globe. Respondents increasingly agree with statements such as “I really need the shops and services I use to be available at all times” that went up by 4 percent between 2016 and 2018.

China is setting the pace for online retail

For technical consumer goods in the first six months of 2018, in Western Europe, the value share of online sales has grown to now 25.3 percent. This is plus of 8.2 percent compared to 1.3 percent growth of the total market. Globally, China is setting the pace for online retail. Being the largest online sales market, another significant increase of more than 20 percent is accomplished. Driving forces in China are the Telecom and Major Domestic Appliances markets – and more potential can be foreseen for the future.

Traditional season peaks lose relevance with online promotions

Another serious impact of online retail are shifts in the seasonality of sales. Online retail tries to differentiate through their own promotions and those are easily scalable and hence turnover intensive in a digital environment. Consequently, traditional season peaks like Christmas season lose relevance with online promotions like Cyber week, Singles Day/Double Eleven or 618 (JD.com). While online retail sales are growing up, assortments do the same.

More growth potential is explored by online retail going mobile. Share of respondents agreeing with “My mobile device is quickly becoming my most important shopping tool” has increased from 34% in 2015 to 45% in 2017 in our FutureBuy study. Convenient shopping online, even on social media or wherever consumers see goods they may want to have – yet another level of easy shopping. In APAC, already 29% of all MDA purchases were done via a mobile device in 2017 (up from 25% in 2016) while in Europe is behind with only 12% in 2017 (also up from 9% in 2016) here, Notebooks still account for the biggest part of purchases (43%).


This blog has been written by the Strategic Insights team.


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