Nov. 29, 2010 – E-commerce sales continue to outpace total U.S. retail sales

Separate reports are revealing different pictures of how the industry is faring this year in the e-commerce world.
One national report shows average dealer online sales of parts, accessories and garments up 25 percent through October compared to the 10-month timeframe a year ago.
A different set of national data comparing this year’s third quarter to the year-ago period shows a sharp decline for industry online sales. The news from both reports — which are backed up by federal government data — is overall U.S. online retail sales are still trending upward, even if there is no such clear distinction for this industry.
“We’re definitely seeing a pick up in spending across the board,” said Mark Grondin, senior vice president of marketing for Shopatron, a San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based company that provides an e-commerce system to a number of different industries, including powersports.
“If you look at our overall numbers, our same store sales are up 32 percent in Q3 so consumers are spending more.”
That, however, has not been the case specifically with powersports industry sales, Grondin noted. Shopatron, which provides e-commerce opportunities for a number of manufacturers including Can-Am, Suzuki and a number of high-profile aftermarket brands, has seen its industry online sales decline in both the second and third quarters of this year. However, as Grondin noted, that hasn’t been the overall national picture. Plus, he said, it isn’t across the board in powersports. Some industry companies actually are faring better this year than a year ago.
Grondin noted one negative possibly affecting industry sales this year is a tough comparable — powersports was one of the better-performing industries for Shopatron’s online sales a year ago. That’s saying quite a lot as Shopatron handles brands in a number of retail markets, including electronics, home furnishings, the auto aftermarket and others.
A much brighter picture of online parts and accessory sales comes from Dominion Powersports Solutions, the parent company of e-commerce and website provider PowerSports Network. Through October, both the average number of orders and the average revenue per dealership is up over a year ago, said Gwyn Price, vice president of Dominion Powersports Solutions.
Perhaps word of mouth of those increases has led to more dealerships using e-commerce tools on their websites, something Dominion Powersports Solutions has seen this year.
“Even with all the competition out there, we reached our highest number of e-commerce dealers this year,” Price said.
The percentage of?PowerSports Network dealers who are using e-commerce has increased 18 percent since a year ago. Orders, per dealership, are up 2 percent over a year ago and revenue per store has increased 25 percent over 2009, Price said. Both of those increases are year-to-date numbers through October.
Consumers’ price-conscious ways are not limited to brick-and-mortar shops. The same mindset is carrying over to online shopping.
Doran Nurmi, product manager for website and e-commerce provider 50 Below, says they have noticed that trend in industry shoppers. Nurmi said the number of items consumers are placing in their online carts has increased but the total dollar amount they’re spending has slightly decreased.
That thrifty mindset also is noticeable in when they search for parts and accessories. 50 Below e-commerce sites allow consumers to search for products in a number of ways, including defining a price category. Nurmi says the most popular price category is right around $100.
National numbers from the federal government also show increased consumer interest in online shopping. The latest online data provided by the Department of Commerce — taken from the second quarter of this year — show online sales up 14 percent compared to a year ago. That is essentially double the rate of growth seen in overall retail sales growth.
As a whole, however, online sales still make up less than 5 percent of total U.S. retail sales, according to the federal government. But clearly the initial signs of increased consumer spending are showing up online. “November is looking to be a real banner November for us,” Grondin of Shopatron said, “and we haven’t really hit the Christmas spending yet.”

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