2013 Small Business Ecommerce Holiday Stats

statsYou’ve probably seen the stats on how the big e-tailers performed this past 2013 holiday season. What hasn’t been covered is how the smaller ecommerce merchants did overall. Here is what we’ve seen this past holiday season…

First, the big stats

comScore released their overall numbers for 2013. They reported that for 2013 (for the 52-day period up through December 22) online stores saw a 10% increase in ecommerce spending.

comScore also reported on the big days like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Thanksgiving, etc… We covered these days’ stats in a previous post about how small merchants fared for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2013.

The best performing product categories according to comScore were Video Games, Apparel, Consumer Electronics, Computer Hardware, and Home & Garden.

MasterCard also reported on 2013 for the retail industry, seeing a 2.3 percent increase over 2012 for the holiday season.

Now for the smaller merchant stats

We took a look at a random sampling of 86 stores that had significant sales both in 2012 and 2013. This allows us to see how the same stores fared year over year. For the same 52-day period comScore looked at for 2012 and 2013, our merchants saw a revenue increase of 7.1%. They saw total number of orders up 3.2%, and average order value up 3.5%.

We also broke it down a bit more, looking at the top product categories for the holiday season. The best performing category was Media, followed by Hardware, Health & Beauty, Arts & Entertainment, and Sporting Goods.

If we look at a random sampling of stores in 2012 and 2013 (that are not the same year to year), we see a revenue increase of 27%. However, that is 297 stores tracked in 2013 vs. 229 stores in 2012.


Small Merchants did better in 2013

The same merchants in 2013 saw revenue increase 7.1% over 2012. It’s a bit less than the 10% increase comScore reported, but it’s still a positive sign.

comScore is looking at the biggest online stores. So, it stands to reason that overall their sales might be a bit higher, as big online stores are gaining steam on the internet each year. Big e-tailers also overshadowed small merchants on the big days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday, likely due to their aggressive deals and big ad budgets.

However, when we look at the whole shopping season, small merchants gaining 7.1% is a strong indication that you can still compete and prosper against the big boys and girls on the Net.

What you sell matters

You see comScore saying the biggest categories in 2013 were Video games, Consumer electronics, and computer hardware. This is not the case for smaller merchants. Why?

You can’t go head to head selling Xbox consoles, Playstation games, and Dell computers.

However, categories such as Media (digital downloads like custom software, recipes, videos, etc…), Hardware, Health & Beauty, and Arts & Entertainment, allow smaller merchants to offer unique and specialty items that can’t be easily found elsewhere. These sectors saw strong growth in 2013.

Compare apples to apples

When looking at growth year over year, you either need to look at the same stores (or very similar stores), or use more precise computations to account for fewer or more stores in the sample. With these large companies putting out stats about the industry, what’s often missing is their methodology, so it’s tough to tell exactly what they are reporting.

Other sources have put some data out about small merchant sales, but the numbers don’t seem to make sense many times, and an explanation of exactly what they measured is almost always missing.

That’s why we look at the same stores from one year to the next, so we can see actual data from the same group of merchants, to get a more accurate representation of how things are progressing.

Ecommerce is still growing for all sizes of stores

Sure, big retailers online are getting the majority of the press, and Amazon seems to be the only destination for some shoppers, but small ecommerce stores still saw a 7.1% increase overall in revenue year over year. After a tough few years due to the economy, it seems both large and small merchants are seeing an upward trend that will hopefully continue throughout 2014.

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