Only 13% of total retail sales in Asia Pacific (Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea) were made online in 2015, but the impact of the web on offline retail sales is much bigger. Our recently published Forrester Data Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2015 To 2020 (Asia Pacific) shows the influence of the web on offline retail sales and how its impact varies by country and category. Some of the key findings of the forecast are as follows:
- The web impacted more than a third of total retail sales in 2015 and will impact 48% by 2020. Smartphones are becoming consumers’ most widely used mobile device, and consumers are using them to find information about a product irrespective of their location. They use them to research products, even when they are shopping in physical stores; to compare prices with online retailers; to check specifications; and to read user reviews. This behavior is making the web a more powerful medium — one that retailers can no longer ignore. We expect web-influenced retail sales in Asia Pacific to reach $2.1 trillion in 2020, up from $1.2 trillion in 2015.
- South Korea leads in web-impacted sales . . . High penetration rates for the internet, smartphones, online retail, social media, online payment options, and messaging platforms are powering the web’s impact on retail sales in South Korea. Similar factors mean that Japan, China, and Australia closely follow South Korea in terms of web-impacted sales.
- . . . while India is a distant last. With just 1.7% of retail sales taking place online in 2015, India is far behind the other four Asia Pacific countries in terms of online retail penetration. However, the web influences more than twice as many offline retail sales in India, underscoring the importance of the web as a way for retailers to connect with customers. Indian online retailers are already moving to monetize these online researchers by opening offline retail stores.
- The web’s influence is growing fastest for the homeware, beauty and cosmetics, and grocery categories. Although the web’s greatest impact is on categories like media, computers, and consumer electronics, the majority of the sales in these categories end up taking place online. However, in the case of categories like homeware, beauty products, and grocery, the web has far more influence on offline sales and this is increasing rapidly. Online retailers in categories like furniture, beauty, jewelry, baby care, and eyewear are focusing on increasing their offline presence. We expect more categories to follow this trend in 2016-17.
- Online sales: purchases made over the internet.
- Web-influenced sales: sales to consumers who research their purchases online but buy the product in the store.
- Web-impacted sales: web-influenced sales plus online sales. This is the total impact of the internet — i.e., sales that happen on the online channel as well as sales that happen across other channels but have been influenced by research done online.