Big Box Stores See Uptick In Ecommerce Sales

May 22, 2020 Carolyn Harding

Whether by desire or necessity, consumers are shifting their spending habits online now more than ever. As a result, many big box stores are experiencing dramatic ecommerce growth.

Target, Office Depot & Walmart Adapt To Increased Ecommerce Demand

Target recently shared it experienced record-setting digital growth, with ecommerce sales up more than 100% in the first quarter of 2020. In April, digital sales rose by 275%. According to recent Bloomberg data, if comparable store sales of 7% remain, it would mark Target’s best quarterly performance since 2000.

target pickup

Target credited its same-day fulfillment options – curbside pickup and delivery – as two major selling points for consumers during this time. The convenience and ease of both pandemic-friendly shopping options have aided in consumers purchasing more online. After their first pickup, three-quarters of consumers use Target’s online ordering again within three months, and their spending increases by nearly 25%, with online purchases, specifically, rising 50%.

Fellow big box store Office Depot also experienced a spike in ecommerce sales as of late, as the office supply retailer is continuing its pivot to a primarily B2B-focused supplier of products. According to Office Depot CEO Gerry Smith, the company’s ecommerce sales “experienced a significant increase in demand” in the first quarter of 2020 and aided in offsetting a decline in sales as a result of COVID-19. “…our ecommerce platform and retail stores are proving to be trusted means for customers to access the critical products and services they need,” Smith added.

Looking to capitalize on its 74% growth in ecommerce sales during Q1, Walmart recently announced it was rolling out an Express Delivery service in response to the growing demand for online sales and the corresponding delivery need — further boosted by a 190% increase in monthly downloads of its online grocery app.

Ecommerce As A Whole Has Experienced Growth In The Past Year

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, ecommerce sales represented the majority of overall retail sales growth in the U.S. According to eMarketer, $600 billion in online sales accounted for 56% of overall retail growth in 2019, with projections expecting ecommerce sales to increase as much as $6.5 trillion in 2023.

According to Adobe’s latest Digital Economy Index, ecommerce sales rose 49% between the initial shutdowns in March and the end of April. This jump is reflective of consumers spending money on products that will directly help manage the current pandemic.

Additionally, recent data showed ecommerce sales in April 2020 grew even faster than March when looking at factors like page views, order count, question submissions and more. April ended with an 88% increase in page views and a 96% increase in order count. With such a sizable spike, it’s no surprise ecommerce ad spend nearly doubled at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

How & What Are Consumers Buying Online From Big Box Stores?

For marketers looking to capitalize on growing big box store ecommerce sales, it’s imperative to identify how and what consumers are looking to purchase through their online shopping. The buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) option rose 208% between April 1-20, compared to the same time last year. “The service is a win-win for retailers and consumers as shoppers can get items quickly and in person, and shows no sign of slowing down,” said Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights. Major retailers who utilize BOPIS capabilities are using them to grow engagement with consumers and provide shoppers with easy, seamless experiences at a time when shoppers need convenience the most.

The products that consumers are prioritizing have also evolved:

  • Wine, beer, spirits and related accessories rose 74% in April.
  • Online books sales increased 100% between March 12-April 12.
  • From mid-March to mid-April, online apparel sales increased 34% YOY.
  • Online grocery aided dramatically in the overall increase in ecommerce sales between March and April, with a 110% gain in daily sales.

Businesses that never deemed an ecommerce platform necessary are now quickly transitioning to position themselves for a new retail reality, as the behavioral changes are already in motion to completely alter the retailing landscape. Big box stores, specifically, are experiencing a major evolution in consumer shopping and spending habits due to the effects of the current pandemic. And in a future when consumers may be hesitant about unnecessary in-store shopping, businesses will need to leverage strong digital marketing strategies and provide seamless ecommerce experiences in order to maintain strong relationships with consumers. 

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About the Author

Carolyn Harding

Carolyn Harding is an Associate Manager of Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. DMS helps its clients accelerate growth by deploying diversified and data-driven customer acquisition solutions that deliver scalable, sustainable and measurable marketing results. DMS performance marketing solutions connect the right consumers with the right offers at the right time to achieve the marketing objectives of our clients. DMS is continually innovating to provide new and emerging media and technology solutions that minimize waste and maximize results across the most competitive industries. Since its inception, DMS has demonstrated incredible year-over-year growth which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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