Research: Q3 online sales flash survey results

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Not quite one year ago, a number of retail members asked us for some kind of gauge by which to see how the e-commerce industry was doing. White knuckled as everyone was at the time, we teamed up with our partner, Forrester Research, and the day after Cyber Monday 2008 we launched the first Online Sales Flash Survey.

We’ve just concluded our Q3 survey and it appears that the gradual improvement we’ve seen quarter over quarter this year is continuing (see a recap of the numbers and a summary of the results). 70 retailers responded to our most recent quarterly (anonymous) one-question survey that asked simply, “How did your gross online sales (top line) for the period July 1 through September 30, 2009 perform relative to the same period last year?” Some highlights:

  • The average growth for gross online sales in Q3 of ’09 compared to Q3 of ’08 was 16%.
  • Almost three-quarters of retailers surveyed reported experiencing some YOY growth for the quarter.
  • Large and medium sized retailers overall did well, as did half of the retailers who identified themselves as generating annual online sales of $10 million or less.
  • Multi-channel retailers and manufacturers who participated in the survey also reported largely doing well, along with half of those identifying themselves as online-only retailers.

As part of the survey, we invite participants to note any (optional) comments about the quarter, such as trends that they’re seeing. It’s of course difficult to generalize from comments across retailers of different sizes and types of companies, but some multichannel retailers with primarily store-based operations noted things like average order value AOV staying either flat or declining somewhat, while also experiencing increased traffic and longer purchase cycles as consumers shop around more and wait for discounts. Multi-channel retailers with primarily online-based operations noted some of the same, including seeing increased traffic as consumers shopped around significantly before actually committing to a given purchase.

Calling all retailers: we need your participation in our upcoming holiday sales flash surveys. Please email me if you didn’t receive an email to participate in this last round, and I will add you to our list. As always, the more retailers who participate, the more granular the results we can report back to you. Thank you for supporting research!

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  1. [...] online sales in November and December are likely to grow 8% compared to last year. Moreover, a survey Forrester conducted with the National Retail Foundation found that online retailers reported sales in the third quarter grew [...]

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