US online retail (non-travel) spending reached $44.3 billion during Q1 2012, representing a 17% increase from $38 billion in Q1 2011, according to estimates from comScore. This marks the 10th consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and 6th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. The 17% year-over-year growth rate is also the largest for any quarter since Q4 2007. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, e-commerce sales fell about 11% from $49.7 billion. However, comScore historical data shows that e-commerce sales generally peak during the fourth quarter due to holiday spending, and the decline is slightly less severe than the 12.5% drop experienced between Q4 2010 and Q1 2011.
E-Retailers Get High Satisfaction Scores
Online retailers certainly appear to be doing their best to ride the e-commerce wave. According to ForeSee’s Top 100 E-Retail Satisfaction Index, released in May 2012, a record 36 of the top 100 online retailers scored above the threshold for excellence (80 or higher on the 100-point scale), up from 28 websites in 2010 and 2011. Overall, the satisfaction scores appear to have plateaued at 78, the average score from 2010 and 2010.
According to the comScore data, the top-performing online product categories in Q1 were: digital content and subscriptions; computer software; consumer electronics; jewelry and watches; and event tickets. Each grew at least 17% year-over-year.
48.8% of e-commerce transactions included free shipping, the highest proportion for a quarter outside of the holiday season. Q4 2011 (51.8%) and Q4 2010 (49.3%) are the only quarters to see higher proportions.
38% of tablet owners have made a purchase on their devices within the past month, with apparel the most popular category amongst these shoppers.
According to the ForeSee results, Amazon is the leader of the e-retailer pack, with a score of 89, a 3-point improvement from 2011′s score of 86. Following Amazon were Apple (85), QVC (85), Keurig (84), Avon (83), and L.L. Bean (83). Apple’s score was a 5-point improvement from 2011.
Satisfied visitors are 72% more likely than dissatisfied visitors to purchase online (89% vs. 52%), 56% more likely to purchase offline (74% vs. 48%), 67% more likely to purchase from the retailer the next they’re in the market for a similar product (91% vs. 54%), and 69% more likely to recommend the retailer to someone else (92% vs. 55%).
About the Data: ForeSee’s Top 100 E-Retail Satisfaction Index measures browser satisfaction with the top 100 online retailers by 2011 sales volume as reported in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Satisfaction data were collected through FGI Research’s SmartPanel – a nationwide group of 1.6 million consumer households that have agreed to participate in opt-in surveys – and analyzed using ForeSee’s methodology, which is based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), developed at the University of Michigan. During February 2012, ForeSee collected data from almost 21,000 responses visitors of the top 100 online retail sites within the previous 2 weeks, whether or not they made a purchase.