Report: Multichannel Retailers Saw Double-Digit Growth in 2005

Marketing solutions provider Abacus’s annual multichannel trend report shows a 14% rise in sales and transactions in 2005. The report, released Aug. 9 by the Lafayette, CO-based company, also showed another year-over-year shift of sales from call-centers to Websites.

The 14% increase in total sales and transactions was driven by the purchasing activity of 62 million households. These households made about 257 million purchases via direct channels in 2005, resulting in $31.3 billion in sales.

The largest categories and year-over-year performance included apparel and accessories ($8.6 billion, a 9% increase over 2004); home decor and furnishings ($5.4 billion, a 5% increase); gifts, including general and specialty foods ($3.6 billion, a 7% increase), men’s products ($3.1 billion, a 6% increase); senior products ($1.5 billion, a 4% increase); and children’s products ($1.3 billion, an 11% increase).

Of all direct sales for multichannel merchants, 25% were conducted via Websites in 2005, compared to 20% in 2004. The average order sizes for catalog and Web transactions continue to change, with those of Websites (up to $116 from $113) surpassing call-centers (flat at $102) for the second year in row.

The report also shows that direct mail performance was 10% greater in 2005 than in 2004 with approximately the same circulation volume, despite some unforeseen national disasters and other factors such as the postal increase.

In addition, customers said they still prefer the mail order (phone/mail/fax) channel, with 51% of households ordering through these traditional channels. But household purchases from the mail order channel is down 5% from 2004, while the proportion of dollars and transactions generated via the Web continues to grow steadily between 17-19% year over year.

While each quarter had respectable revenue gains between a 12%-16% in 2005 vs. the same quarter in the prior year, the fourth quarter holiday season continues to see the greatest growth across all channels. The Q4 2005 holiday season saw the greatest shift away from direct and retail channels towards the Web.

The trend report also looked at the holiday purchase curve, which varies by channel, and showed that call center and online purchases peak in Week 49 at 13% of total Q4 orders, while retail orders spike in Week 51 at 13% of total Q4 purchases.

The Abacus B2C Alliance and Abacus ChannelView were used to compile the Abacus 2006 Multi-Channel Retail Annual Trend Report. Business-to-consumer catalog and online data is included, while b-to-b data is excluded.

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