Research firm Forrester, Inc. says the web will account for or influence 59 percent of U.S. retail sales by 2018, up from 52 percent this year.
Its new report — “U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Sales Forecast: 2014 to 2018” — also suggests that sales which consumers begin via a digital medium but complete offline will account for $1.774 trillion in retail spending in 2018. That’s up from $1.386 trillion in 2014.
“Consumers are ‘preshopping’ across more categories on digital devices, including phones and tablets,” says report author and Forrester e-retail analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, “while the availability of more information at shoppers’ fingertips even when they are on the go is a significant driver of the growth in cross-channel shopping.
The report summary from Internet Retailer notes that product categories like food and furniture lend themselves to those web-influenced sales more often than for more sporadic purchases like events or movie tickets, for instance.
The research also pinpoints other factors which spur web-influenced sales:
- Smartphone ownership, since 68 percent of U.S. online adults now using their phones to access the web inside stores, according to Forrester.
- Retailers’ “omnichannel efforts,” which include store associates using mobile devices to check inventory.
- The relatively small size of e-commerce in relation to the U.S. retail economy; between 2014 and 2018, Forrester says, 75 percent of U.S. retail sales growth will come from offline sales, including those influenced by the web.