In the last few years, physical retailers have worked hard to beef up their eCommerce presences. To do this, they have glommed on to many trends pioneered by online-only retailers like Amazon. Expedited shipping, frequent-shopper rewards and free returns have all been popular strategies - among many others - that retailers have used to improve their online shopping offerings. In fact, over the last few weeks, retail giants Best Buy and Walmart have both taken widely publicized steps to more fully venture into the eCommerce landscape
All of this follow-the-online-leader news might make you think that online-only retailers are leading the eCommerce charge, but the truth isn't necessarily that simple. According to Internet Retailer, web-only merchants are growing at a slower rate
than catalogers and retail chains. The source reports that companies selling exclusively online are growing at a rate of 15.6 percent annually, while catalogers and brick-and-mortar retailers grew at rates of 17 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively.
Why are etailers lagging?
There is no consensus as to why web-only retailers aren't growing as quickly as their peers - and it's worth noting that most industries would be more than happy with a 15 percent annual growth rate - but there are a few popular theories.
Chief among them is the belief that omnichannel retailing has been a disproportionately large boon for companies with both physical and online outlets. According to a recent story from The Wall Street Journal, traditionally brick-and-mortar-focused companies like Walmart have been benefiting greatly as eCommerce has taken off
. Many consumers view the ability to shop online or in stores - sometimes simultaneously - as a huge perk. As such, web-only outfits could be losing ground as customers become accustomed to multichannel retailing.
What can etailers do?
This is unlikely to be a death knell for etailers, though. According to Internet Retailer, there are many options available to such businesses. First, in a mirror image of what physical retailers are doing, some web-only merchants are opening up brick-and-mortar locations of their own
. Secondly, some web-based merchants are using their inherent advantage - the ability to focus exclusively on eCommerce - to separate themselves from their competitors.
It is the second of these options that may hold the key for etailers. As eCommerce becomes more popular, web-only sellers have the ability to put themselves in a great position for future growth. Using their focused positions, these companies can increase market share and continue to bolster revenue.