The web shows increased might in retail

Online retail sales grew 11% year over year in the first quarter, as mobile’s share of total online sales grew by more than a third, to 18.5%, Custora says in its E-Commerce Pulse quarterly report.

Paul Demery

Retail e-commerce is off to a strong start this year, with sales in the first quarter up 10.9% and the number of online orders up 13.0% over the first quarter of 2013, e-marketing services firm Custora reports.

Contributing to that growth in online retail sales is a boost from mobile commerce, which accounted for 18.5% of total online sales in Q1, up more than a third from 13.7% in the year-earlier period, Custora says in the quarterly E-Commerce Pulse report.

Custora bases its figures on its own analysis of data gathered from more than 70 million consumers and more than $10 billion in online sales across more than 100 retailers based in the United States. It also uses data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Custora’s report does not include actual revenue figures.

The strong performance of online sales in Q1 promises to further the web’s increasing share of total retail sales. As of the end of 2013, the web accounted for 6% of total retail sales, up from 5% in 2012, 3% in 2006 and 1% in 2000, Custora says.

Custora notes that online retail sales last year increased 16.9% over 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, while total retail sales grew 4.2%. “We will be keeping an eye out for how much market share online stores ‘steal’ from brick and mortar in 2014,” Custora says in the Pulse report. Since 2009 and through the end of 2013, online retail sales are up 105%, compared with a rise of 26% for offline retail sales, the firm says.

The year-over-year growth rate of online sales in this year’s first quarter peaked in January, at 11.3%, but remained fairly steady throughout the quarter, rising 10.7% in February and 9.7% in March, Custora says.

The Pulse report also notes that Internet search drove 44% of retail e-commerce transactions in Q1, with clicks on free natural search results accounting for 24% of e-retail sales and paid search 20%.

Among other marketing channels, e-mail accounted for 18% of transactions; affiliate marketing, 8%; online display ads, 1%; and social media, 1%. The Pulse report notes 23% of transactions were the result of shoppers going directly to a retail site; it attributes 5% of transactions to an “other” category. The full Pulse report is available on Custora's web site, Custora.com.


Custora, e-commerce, e-commerce sales, Q1 2014 e-commerce sales, search marketing