Fifty-eight percent of U.S. retail sales will be digitally impacted by 2023, meaning those sales either will occur online or may occur in-store but be influenced by digital technologies, according to a new Forrester report that was emailed to Retail Dive.
Total retail sales for 2018 across multiple categories are expected to be around $3.7 trillion, with 36% ($1.3 trillion of that total) influenced by digital factors, such as online marketplaces, online and mobile advertising, and mobile search, the report stated.
Furthermore, 31% of all 2018 U.S. retail sales (about $1.1 trillion worth) is expected to be influenced by mobile smartphones. By 2022, smartphones will play a role in about 90% of all digitally influenced sales, and by 2023 will see their influence grow to represent $1.4 trillion in retail sales, Forrester said.
The future of shopping is not only digital, but also mobile, and that is becoming increasingly true with each passing year, regardless of where and how a purchase is completed. The retail sector has come to realize that measuring sales that occur specifically through online and mobile channels is small in comparison to how much these technologies impact the overall shopping journey.
For example, Forrester said in an earlier report last summer that sales via mobile in the U.S. would amount to around $117 billion in 2018, still representing a small percentage of all retail sales (This latest report updates the figure to $118 billion). However, as it noted in this latest report, retail sales influenced by mobile — via mobile search, advertising, social media app sharing and other tools — totaled more than a trillion dollars in 2018.
Aside from mobile smartphones, online marketplaces represent another significant influencer in retail sales — even those that occur offline. Forrester stated online marketplaces ultimately would influence about $393 billion in offline retail sales in 2018, largely reflecting the role that these marketplaces, particularly Amazon, play in product discovery and the research phases of shopping.
Over 40% of U.S. adults are familiar with online marketplaces, and 66% of that group have made purchases through marketplaces, according to Forrester. The ratings and reviews sections that are commonplace on Amazon and other marketplaces are key to their influence, with 32% of U.S. online adults saying that they will consider buying only if these ratings and reviews are present.
As we enter 2019, retailers and brands must realize that while in-store interactions with customers continue to be vitally important, much of the shopping journey is occurring in the digital world.