Live from NRF: The Present and Future of Online Retailing

New York–How is e-commerce like a toddler? In comparing the growth of e-commerce to that of her young son, Forrester Research principal analyst Carrie Johnson said that while both needed constant attention in their infancy, they’re now able to stand on their own feet. Johnson cited the metaphor Monday while addressing attendees at the National Retail Federation’s 94th Annual Convention and Expo.

Despite an economic downturn in 2001, e-commerce sales have steadily increased to become a $114.1 billion industry in 2003, said Johnson. What’s more, Forrester expects e-commerce (excluding online travel purchases) to grow 16% this year. Because of stable online sales, Johnson said, retailers are investing in online and multichannel programs for growth.

Sam Taylor, senior vice president of online stores and marketing at Richfield, MN-based consumer electronics retailer Best Buy, told attendees that his company has learned that the Internet has a large influence on retail sales, which is why the company uses its Website as both an independent sales channel and as support for its stores.

For New York-based upscale apparel retailer Saks Fifth Avenue, e-mail marketing has become a significant way to drive store and Website traffic, said Denise Incandela, senior vice president of Saks Direct. With current e-mail campaigns garnering significantly higher conversion and sales rates, Incandela said she’s positive future e-mail segmentation will be “big.”