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U.S. vs. Europe: The future of e-commerce

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NRF is flexing its international chops this week as three of the organization’s top executives lead the charge at the 4th annual Global E-Commerce Summit held in Barcelona. Kicking off the conference, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay shared a few of statistics to put online growth in the United States and Europe in perspective.

    • Forrester Research is projecting online sales of $210 billion in the United States alone in 2012. The number is expected to hit nearly $250 billion in 2014. More than two-thirds of the online population buy something online every year, and that number is growing rapidly. 
        • In Europe, Forrester says online retail sales in 17 major countries were close to 97 billion Euros in 2011 and are expected to hit 172 billion Euros by 2016. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent. By 2016, online sales will account for more than 14 percent of total retail sales in the UK and more than 10 percent in Germany.

          In light of these statistics, Shay noted, "In the U.S. we’re hearing two key takeaways from our members on how to live in this omnichannel world—first, make sure that the way you present your brand is optimized for the devices that your customers are using—and second, upgrade your in-store technology to meet your consumers’ needs." Shay also used the example of the death of historic companies and products to prove that technology truly is king. Like for instance, Eastman Kodak thought of itself as a film company rather than a photography company and saw its business taken away by the digital technology it invented but failed to embrace. Movie studios that once resisted the VHS tape are now rushing out digital downloads of their blockbusters nearly as quickly as the movies appear in theaters. Shay concluded, "The world is changing, and it’s up to us to continue to imagine the next great thing for our customers. If we don’t someone else will." Other executives from NRF are sharing their industry knowledge as well over the 3-day conference, as NRF SVP and Executive Director Vicki Cantrell takes the stage on June 6 to lead the discussion on social commerce.