June 14, 2012, 3:45 PM

May web sales bounce back among small merchants

After a 4% drop in April, May web sales rose nearly 9%.

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Just as April showers bring May flowers, a 4.3% downturn in April web sales preceded an 8.6% rise in May for small and mid-size retailers indexed by Dydacomp, a provider of order management software.

“The May 2012 Dydacomp SMB Index showed its single largest year-over-year monthly growth rate in the past year, for both gross sales and number of orders,” says Fred Lizza, CEO of Dydacomp.

The growth in May came from a 6.7% increase in the volume of orders, as average order size inched up 1.8%, he says. This is a change from prior months’ patterns, which showed the number of orders fairly constant amid larger rises in average order size, he adds.

“Books continue to be a high-growth category despite the dominance of Amazon.com and the popularity of e-readers, recording a 22% year-over-year increase in total sales in May,” Lizza says. “We believe this growth is influenced by many religiously affiliated organizations that publish unique content not available through mainstream distribution channels.” Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Sporting goods showed the largest increase in sales, up 33%;  auto parts, up 16%, showed strong growth after several years of recession-driven decline, Lizza says. “On the down side, two of the largest verticals, clothing and toys, showed small declines,” he adds.

The Dydacomp SMB Index, prepared for Internet Retailer, is based on data compiled from more than 1.7 million orders per month at more than 1,500 e-commerce operators across more than 15 product categories—accounting for more than $200 million in combined monthly retail sales; the retailers are users of Dydacomp’s order management software.

Following are the dollar volumes in gross merchandise sales (in millions) across all retail channels for each product category in the index for May 2012, with the percentage changes over May 2011, and for the year to date through May 2012 over the same period of 2011:

● Advertising Specialties/Promotional Items, $1.12, 0.08%, -2.50%

● Auto Parts, $16.42, 15.84%, 9.55%

● Books, $32.16, 21.96%, 22.43%

● Clothes, $17.52, -0.88%, -6.75%

● Consumer Electronics, $8.51, 3.70%, -0.44%

● Educational Training Materials, $2.63, 3.32%, -2.45%

● Food/Health, $32.52, 11.71%, 3.93%

● Home Furnishings, $3.39, 4.06%, -1.48%

● Jewelry, $1.08, 6.56%, -15.87%

● Music/Video/DVD, $1.25, 6.31%, -7.19%

● Sporting Goods, $13.08, 30.08%, 26.26%

● Tobacco Products/Alcohol, $1.18, -0.95%, -3.10%

● Tools/Hardware, $1.85, -4.24%, -8.74%

● Toys, $31.16, -0.70%, -1.02%

● Other, $48.84, 4.84%, -1.84%

● Total, $212.73, 8.64%, 3.86%

Following are the average order values across all retail channels for each product category in the index, with the changes in average order size for May 2012 over May 2011, and for the year to date through May 2012 over the same period of 2011:

● Advertising Specialties/Promotional Items, $73.29, 7.42%, 6.99%

● Auto Parts, $239.27, 4.33%, 1.06%

● Books, $117.35, 10.40%, 14.87%

● Clothes, $109.32, 4.07%, 7.33%

● Consumer Electronics, $262.20, 10.72%, 10.59%

● Educational Training Materials, $162.05, 1.94%, 7.66%

● Food/Health, $111.38, 1.15%, 2.27%

● Home Furnishings, $171.96, 2.48%, 4.30%

● Jewelry, $442.12, 34.32%, 13.83%

● Music/Video/DVD, $117.40, 6.00%, 2.13%

● Sporting Goods, $160.21, 9.56%, 11.44%

● Tobacco Products/Alcohol, $102.21, 0.95%, 11.44%

● Tools/Hardware, $179.73, 0.23%, 0.57%

● Toys, $136.07, -10.11%, 0.99%

● Other, $123.47, -0.09%, -0.04%

● Total, $131.32, 1.84%, 4.61%

Following are the changes in the number of transactions across all retail channels for each product category in the index for May 2012 over May 2011, and for the year to date through May 2012 over the same period of 2011:

● Advertising Specialties/Promotional Items, -6.84%, -8.87%

● Auto Parts, 11.04%, 8.40%

● Books, 10.46%, 6.58%

● Clothes, -4.75%, -13.12%

● Consumer Electronics, -6.34%, -9.97%

● Educational Training Materials, 1.36%, -9.39%

● Food/Health, 10.44%, 1.62%

● Home Furnishings, 1.53%, -5.55%

● Jewelry, -20.66%, -26.09%

● Music/Video/DVD, 0.29%, -9.13%

● Sporting Goods, 18.73%, 13.30%

● Tobacco Products/Alcohol, -1.89%, -2.60%

● Tools/Hardware, -4.45%, -9.26%

● Toys, 10.47%, -1.99%

● Other, 4.93%, -1.79%

● Total, 6.68%, -0.71%

Dydacomp notes that performance numbers in its SMB Index of tend to be lower than broader e-commerce market figures because the index does not include growth at the largest online retailers. In addition, information in the index includes a small percentage of sales processed in stores and contact centers using Dydacomp’s order management software, and in many cases such sales are declining, the company says.

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