State of Retail – Post Holiday 2016

state of retail

Amazon captures half of holiday sales, half of growth
Many retailers are regrouping after disappointing holiday sales. While the numbers were lower for many traditional retailers, that only paints half of the picture. E-commerce sites are continuing to gain market share as shoppers move from the store to the computer. According to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, U.S. retail e-commerce sales increased 15.6% in Q3 2016 over Q2 2016. One of the biggest sites to capitalize on this trend is Amazon. According to Internet Retailer, Amazon captured more than half of 2016 holiday sales. Retailers are seeing a shift in how and when consumers shop and what they expect from sites. Half of web traffic and 30% of purchases came from mobile devices.

How Amazon changed shopper expectations
When it comes to e-commerce it seems to be Amazon vs. everyone else. Amazon’s dominance is well documented; they have more than 300 million active users who rely on the site for everything from everyday essentials to TVs. In addition to changing the shopping experience, Amazon has changed shopper expectations. Amazon’s customers have come to expect free and fast shipping, detailed product descriptions and thorough customer reviews. Traditional e-commerce sites are struggling to compete and match the high bar Amazon set. While traditional retailers have an uphill battle, there are several ways that brands can entice shoppers and gain an edge.

PowerReviews recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. shoppers to understand the factors that contribute to Amazon’s dominance; here are some of the key findings.

Thicker than blood?
Every month more people visit Amazon than their families; 85% of people visit Amazon monthly versus 40% who visit family. And it makes sense while families may be dispersed across the country, Amazon is as close as your mobile device. And with thousands of products, thorough product descriptions and ample ratings and reviews, consumers know what to expect and, in turn, trust Amazon.

Of shoppers, 71% make at least one Amazon purchase a month. Shoppers cite the following reasons:

  • 79% – Variety of Products
  • 64% – Free Shipping
  • 60% – Better Deals
  • 55% – Volume of Customer Reviews
  • 54% – Search Capabilities
  • 29% – Mobile Experience

Once you have shoppers on your site – keep them
Once you have attracted shoppers to your site it’s important to provide all of the information they need to complete a purchase. A consumer looking for your specific brand may shop your site to select the items they are most interested in, then take those findings with them to the Amazon site for the actual purchase. According to our study, up to 70% of shoppers will start on a brand site and then navigate to Amazon to complete the purchase while just 31% will do the reverse.

Ease and loyalty are essential to making shoppers repeat buyers. PowerReviews’ survey found that the following reasons ranked highest for keeping shoppers coming back:

  • 56% – Easier to find what I’m looking for
  • 48% – I’m a past customer and loyal to the brand/retailer
  • 25% – I find the best product information here
  • 18% – Helpful customer reviews
  • 17% – Better deals
  • 11% – Other

The retailer marketplace is changing prompting brands and retailers to make adjustment to combat the Amazon effect. While they may have to raise their standards, brands and retailers have the opportunity to be the single best source for information on their products.

To read the full white paper, please visit, or listen to a breakdown on the survey results in a webinar recording with Theresa O’Neil, SVP of Marketing.