Last week, two news items captured the front-page headlines of the Indian financial newspapers. The first was an announcement by Flipkart on July 29 that it has raised fresh capital of $1 billion in one of the largest funding rounds. The second was an announcement by Amazon on July 30 that it will invest another $2 billion in India. These numbers appeared large to us when seen in the context of overall online retail sales in India. As per the Forrester Asia Pacific online retail forecast published in early October 2013, India’s online retail spending was expected to reach $2 billion by the end of 2013. We believe that the pace of eCommerce in India picked up faster than our expectations during the past 12 months and these companies would have witnessed very strong growth. According to Amazon, at current scale and growth rates, India is on track to become the fastest country ever to reach $1 billion in gross sales. It is important to note that Amazon launched India operations in June 2013 only.
These events raised many interesting research questions for us. We will try to address them as we work toward updating our APAC online retail forecast for the years 2014 to 2019. The two most important questions relate to the number of online buyers in India and the mobile commerce opportunity in India.
The Indian online retail market is still nascent, yet it is growing rapidly. Despite all of the existing challenges — underdeveloped logistics and supply chain operations, poor last-mile connectivity, delivery rejections at the doorstep when cash-on-delivery payments are used, and low conversion rates — online retail in India grew by 67% in 2013. Forrester expects India’s online retail spending to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 50% over the next five years as more Indian consumers start purchasing online. Our recently published report India Online Retail Forecast, 2013 To 2018 discusses our online retail forecast and the growth drivers for India.
On the demand side, Forrester sees a lot of room for growth in the number of Indian online buyers.
India had a total population of 1.28 billion in 2013, nearly 16% (or one in six) of whom are online. While higher PC penetration rates have driven Internet adoption in the developed economies over the past two decades, faster mobile penetration is helping boost the Indian Internet population, thanks to “mobile-only” Internet users.
Of all Indian online users, just 14% currently purchase online. Forrester expects the online buyer population in India to grow to 128 million by 2018.
This week Forrester published our inaugural online retail forecast for Canada. While still lagging behind the US market, online sales in Canada show encouraging signs of growth over the next 5 years. In fact, online sales in Canada have grown from C$15.3 billion in 2010 to C$20.6 billion in 2013 and are expected to reach C$33.8 billion by 2018. A few highlights of note from the forecast:
Online sales now account for 7% of total retail spend. Forrester forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% over the next five years for online sales, however retail total growth (online & offline) in Canada will linger at only 2.8% over the same period. Consequently online sales will account for 10% of total retail spend by 2018, up from 7% today.
Just five categories account for half of the dollars spent online in Canada. Apparel and accessories alone are a C$3.5b plus sector, followed closely by PC;s, consumer electronics, event tickets and groceries. Perhaps this should come as no surprise given these same categories that are also some of the most commonly researched online in Canada.
Average online spend is set to increase 37% by 2018. Today the average Canadian spends C$1,130 a year online which is considerably less than our neighbors in the US (who spend US$1,481), but on the bright side, Forrester forecasts that Canadian online spending will hit $1,552 by 2018. The majority of this growth in online spend will be driven by broader access to products and services that today are only available directly at brick-and-mortar stores or via cross-border delivery from US domiciled retailers.
I recently published a report on The European eCommerce Landscape; it shows that more than two-thirds of European online consumers are shopping online, but there are big differences among the different countries. The top categories bought online are travel, clothing and accessories, leisure and entertainment, and consumer electronics. Forrester’s European Technographics® data also reveals that European consumers increasingly prefer the Internet to high-street shops for purchases of music, computer software, event tickets, and videos:
In recent years, the Internet has become the leading channel for media products. In 2012, more European online consumers bought videos/DVDs, music, event tickets, and computer software online than offline. These online media purchases fall into two categories:
1. Digital (sold direct as a download).
2. Physical (a product that an Internet retailer delivers).
Last week Forrester published a report on the state of online retail in Canada. We surveyed 1,103 adult online shoppers in Canada to understand what challenges the Canadian public face when shopping online. We found that Canadian online shoppers have many complaints; among them high shipping costs and lackluster product assortments. Furthermore, Canadian online shoppers are acutely aware of the gap between the online experiences of domestic sites versus those in the US. Canadian sites are missing key online capabilities like free shipping, flexible pickup options, a stress-free return policy, and omnichannel payment options in addition to the obvious price discrepancies.
Some of the reports highlights include the following facts:
Shipping costs are too still too high. Despite the eventual arrival of Amazon Prime in Canada and the increasing commonality of free shipping thresholds, sixty-eight percent of Canadian online shoppers we surveyed cited that delivery costs are their primary concern when shopping online.
Product assortment online in Canada is lackluster. Thirty-seven percent of Canadian online shoppers say they can't find the products they are looking for online in Canada. Consequently, 32% of these frustrated shoppers ultimately end up buying instead from US or International sites and incurring the cost of shipping, custom duties and Canadian taxes.
We recently ran a poll on Forrester's Facebook page: “Which market do you think has a higher percentage of sales coming from online channels — US or UK?"
While most respondents thought the US leads in online retail sales, the answer is actually the UK. Per Forrester's ForecastView latest estimates from the Forrester Research Online Retail Forecast, 2011 To 2016 (US) & (Western Europe), online retail sales in the US will top $200 billion, representing close to 7% of total retail sales of $3 trillion in 2011. Online retail sales in the UK will be £30.2 billion, representing 10% of total retail sales of £297 billion (per the Economist Intelligent Unit- EIU) in 2011.
The UK continues to have larger online channel share because:
The online buying population as a percentage of total population is higher in the UK.
UK online buyers’ average spend levels are slightly higher than those of US online buyers.
The UK population is more deal-sensitive and more prone to buying online.
Thanks to Tesco, online food (grocery) sales are a large contributor to online retail sales in the UK.
After social commerce, mobile commerce is the most heavily debated topic-du-jour among retailers these days. One thing that both social and mobile commerce have in common is that they are both small. Teeny in fact. Forrester’s Mobile Commerce Forecast, 2011 To 2016, which launched today, shows that retailers can expect 2% of their online web sales (yes, I said web sales which means a minuscule percent of overall retail) to be transacted through mobile devices in 2011. While we also expect mobile commerce sales to grow 40% each year for the next five years, we’re still talking small numbers overall (7% of web sales penetration by 2016). Why so small you may ask. After all, aren’t smartphones changing the way we consume web content? Some things to consider:
Tablets. We don’t include tablet shopping in our definition of mobile shopping, but the creation (and subsequent explosion in sales) of this device is probably the single biggest inhibitor to the growth of “mobile commerce.” Data that we gathered with Bizrate Insights (to be released separately and soon) indicates that most tablet owners also own smartphones, and many of those people naturally prefer to shop on the device that has the larger screen when given the choice.
Shopping never leads web behavior. In any list of activities that people do on the Internet, shopping nearly always ranks below things like “reading news” or “using social networks.” Even those activities are not universal among the smartphone set, so it would be premature to expect that shopping would rank high on the list (which it, of course, doesn’t).