Have you ever wondered how big the internet really is?

Some days, do you feel there are just too many businesses like yours already online, and that competing is all too hard? With the likes of Amazon changing the world’s shopping habits, where does a smaller business even start to compete?

In just 20 years Amazon has managed to change the world’s shopping habits and now we’re now finding Myer, David Jones and every other bricks-and-mortar giant playing catch-up.

While they may be scrambling, they do have the ability to throw big dollars at the problem. So where does that leave the bulk of Australian SME’s (the backbone of the country) who also want a slice of the pie?

Good question. Before I answer that, it’s probably a good idea to establish how big the pie really is. After an exhaustive search I found these statistics (from an American source) which show the size of online relative to in-store sales:


Online sales statistics


One thing is for certain, the people have voted and the vast majority are still purchasing in-store. Even the biggest beneficiary of online shopping — computers and electronics — managed just 25% of sales via online.

So what does this tell us? Certainly, the lure of the physical store is too much for the humble shopper, but what we can’t see is what influenced their purchasing decision. Online research prior to purchase is a well established phenomenon.

According to Fleishman-Hillard and Harris’s Interactive Annual Global Study

Eighty-nine percent of consumers surveyed use Internet search engines to make purchasing decisions.

Fleishman-Hillard and Harris

This figure alone should greatly influence the content that you put on your website

So if you’re going to chase the pie, how big will it get? Are consumers going to continue to shift their buying habits and move away from bricks and mortar?

According to Verdict Retail online shopping will be worth $83bn a year by 2018.

That equates to one in every eight retail dollars being spent over the internet – an increase of close to 50% over the next five years.

Verdict Retail’s study coincided with the Office for National Statistics (UK) estimate that “online shopping grew by 22.5% during August 2013.” During the same period retail sales only grew by 2.1%.

The Verdict Retail study also suggests that the consumer is increasingly enjoying shopping over the internet. Of the 10,000 online shoppers they researched only 4% enjoyed physical shopping over online shopping. This is a massive drop since their study eighteen months prior when 25% preferred the bricks-and-mortar experience.

So where does that leave us?

The fact is, these figures demonstrate just how big the potential pie is. For those of you selling online this is certainly good news. There is no doubt more and more people will be looking for your services or products in the future.

And for those of you with a bricks and mortar business, the key to your success will be to attract those researching online to your website to build loyalty and drive them into your store.

Many large American companies are leading the way. Walmart for example are Using coupons found online to drive traffic to their stores.

With Amazon and others barely making a dent on the market and new businesses coming online everyday, the message is clear: start taking advantage of online now before your competitor does.



photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc