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Online-only retailers are growing faster than multichannels

New research show a disparity in sales growth between pure-play online retailers and their multichannel counterparts. 

IMRG stats show that between January and June this year, while multichannel retailers (those with a high street/store presence) grew sales by 9.5%, the figure was 24.8% for online-only (defined as those with at least 80% of sales coming from online channels).

The stats

That said, the stats show that multichannel retailers were initially performing more strongly than the pure-plays from when IMRG starting tracking this in 2010, recording stronger sales growth.

Since 2012, online-only retailers have experienced greater growth than mutichannels, Since 2015 the disparity in growth rates has been even greater, with the pure-plays now experiencing a 23 point ‘advantage’ over multichannels in terms of growth rates.

This trend continues into the first half of 2016, with online-only retailers growing sales at three times that of multichannels.

sales stats

Why the disparity?

Well, the obvious answer is the greater operational costs in staff, rents and other resources, of maintaining a network of stores. This is the big advantage that online-only retailers enjoy, and it’s clearly a big factor in these stats.

The report also suggests mobile as a factor, with online-only retailers tending to have a greater proportion of sales coming from apps and mobile sites.

  • Data from Netmera shows that, for pure-plays, mobile accounts for between 45-61% of revenue, with apps accounting for 30-40% of this figure.
  • For multichannel retailers, mobile accounts for between 20-40% of revenue, with just 6-24% of total online revenue coming through apps.

Then again, it seems likely that, with the choice of just web or mobile, customers of online-only retailers are likely to use mobile more. Whereas customers of a retailer like John Lewis will often eschew mobile or web in favour of visiting a store.

It could also be argued that pure plays have a greater amount of time and resources to devote to mobile offerings, something which has clearly been a key growth area for ecommerce.

The stats also generalise, naturally. What would be interesting to see is which multichannels are bucking this trend and growing faster than the average.

For example, retailers like Schuh and House of Fraser have excellent mobile sites which match any from pure-plays, and also have the advantage of offering click and collect and other convenient delivery options.

Our new report, DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2: The 12 Pillars of Mobile Design, looks at each of this pillars in great detail, containing tips for improvement, and contributions from Home Depot, Somo and more. 

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global.

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