US Online Experiential Retailing Market Report 2021
“To attract consumers, encourage engagement and drive sales; multichannel and pure play retailers must reimagine their customer experience offering in an online setting. Critical underpinnings of a successful online experience…

US Online Experiential Retailing Market Report 2021

£ 3,695 (Excl.Tax)


This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the online experiential retailing market including online experiential retailing market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the online experiential retailing market in the US.

Current market landscape

COVID-19 accelerated the already strong ecommerce sales trajectory across categories by years; two thirds of adults report shopping more online since the pandemic. On the other side of the pandemic, ecommerce will remain elevated as consumers increasingly use a combination of channels to shop.

In good news, shoppers express satisfaction with their digital experiences – 65% think retailers are getting better at offering an enjoyable online shopping experience. They remain at the ready to embrace tech advancements and other future improvements, especially those that elevate convenience.

Future trends in the ecommerce online experiential retailing market

COVID-19 has also presented omnichannel and pure play retailers with unprecedented digital opportunities. One of the biggest opportunities is to look toward social media platforms as a way to boost engagement and sales. Social commerce is set to explode and will be boosted by the emerging livestream shopping phenomenon.

The industry will continue to be challenged to make ecommerce operations profitable. Current demand is already straining retailers. On top of that, there are necessary investments to be made in technology and resources to streamline the supply chain, advance clienteling efforts and enhance the overall digital shopping experience. This puts additional strain on the bottom line. Brands will have to play the long game, investing now in order to protect their businesses in the future.

Read on to discover more about the US Online Experiential Retailing consumer market, read our US Retail and eCommerce & the Impact of COVID-19 | One Year Later 2021 report, or take a look at our other Ecommerce and Online Shopping Market research reports.

Quickly understand

This Report looks at the following areas:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the retail industry, and specifically consumer behavior related to online shopping.
  • Product categories and retail sectors benefitting the most from ecommerce gains.
  • Key drivers of online shopping now and in the future.
  • Types of online shopping experiences that consumers favor.
  • Types of emerging technologies that consumers are interested in.

Covered in this report

Brands include: Sephora, Big Lots, Trader Joes, HomeGoods, QVC, Facebook, Abercrombie & Fitch, Albertson’s, Walmart, Twitter, TalkShopLive, Pinterest, YouTube, Diageo, Vans, Ulta Beauty, Supergreat, Dyson, JCPenney, Macy’s, Target, Nordstrom, Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, Rebecca Minkoff, Clinique, Nike, Roblox, Meta, Chipotle, Lovesac, Peet’s, UPS, Patagonia, Airbnb, Walmart.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Diana Smith, a leading analyst in the Retail and eCommerce sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

To attract consumers, encourage engagement and drive sales; multichannel and pure play retailers must reimagine their customer experience offering in an online setting. Critical underpinnings of a successful online experience are choice and flexibility. Let consumers try products before they buy them, choose when and how they collect and/or return their orders, and select their preferred form of payment.
Diana Smith, Associate Director, Retail & eCommerce
Diana Smith
Associate Director – Retail and eCommerce

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
            • Economic and other assumptions
              • COVID-19: US context
              • Executive Summary

                  • Top takeaways
                    • Market overview
                      • Figure 1: Total US retail ecommerce sales and fan chart forecast, at current prices, 2016-26
                    • Impact of COVID-19 on retail
                      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on retail and ecommerce, December 2021
                    • Opportunities and challenges
                      • Capitalize – and improve upon – online shopping’s existing benefits
                        • Capture the essence of the in-store experience online
                          • Provide experiences that educate and entertain
                            • Explore the new livestream shopping frontier
                              • Make products shoppable in social media
                                • Don’t just incorporate emerging technology into experiences, show customers how to use it
                                • The Market – Key Takeaways

                                  • eCommerce continues to lift up the retail industry
                                    • All product categories are seeing ecommerce gains
                                      • Concerns about COVID-19 variants, inflation and supply chain issues likely to drive more shoppers online
                                      • Market Size and Forecast

                                        • Retail industry on road to recovery
                                          • Figure 3: Total US retail sales and fan chart forecast, including ecommerce, at current prices, 2016-26
                                          • Figure 4: Total US retail sales and forecast, including ecommerce, at current prices, 2016-26
                                        • eCommerce buoys total retail industry
                                          • Figure 5: Total US retail ecommerce sales and fan chart forecast, at current prices, 2016-26
                                          • Figure 6: Total US retail ecommerce sales, at current prices, 2016-26
                                          • Figure 7: eCommerce share of total sales, 2016-26
                                      • Segment Performance

                                        • Furniture and food/beverages experience rapid ecommerce growth
                                            • Figure 8: Share of US ecommerce sales by product category, 2019
                                            • Figure 9: Share of US eCommerce sales by product category, 2015 versus 2019
                                            • Figure 10: US ecommerce sales by product category – Part one, 2015-19
                                            • Figure 11: US ecommerce sales by product category – Part two, 2015-19
                                          • Looking ahead, all categories will continue seeing ecommerce gains
                                            • Figure 12: Estimated percentage change of sales for total retail and food services, by kind of business, 2021
                                            • Figure 13: Estimated quarterly US retail ecommerce sales – Percentage of total sales, change versus prior month and year, Q3 2020-Q3 2021
                                        • Market Factors

                                          • Pandemic is still here
                                            • Figure 14: Attitudes toward COVID-19, 2021
                                          • Consumer confidence remains depressed despite unemployment improvements
                                            • Figure 15: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2021
                                          • Inflation at highest level in three decades
                                            • Figure 16: US inflation rate, 2020-21
                                            • Figure 17: Disposable Personal Income change from previous period, 2020-21
                                          • Supply chain issues plague the retail industry
                                            • Younger, digitally native consumer groups continue to expand
                                              • Figure 18: Population by generation, 2016-26
                                          • Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

                                            • Livestream shopping emerges as new testing ground for online experiential retail
                                              • Incorporating NFTs and gaming into digital experiences
                                                • Winning at ecommerce in the future will require a virtual replication of in-store shopping benefits
                                                • Competitive Strategies

                                                  • To play in ecommerce, one must offer ecommerce
                                                    • Jumping into livestreaming
                                                      • Figure 19: Sephora promotes livestream shopping events on Facebook, 2021
                                                    • Offering other types of shoppable experiences
                                                      • Figure 20: Albertsons partners with Firework to create livestream video experiences, 2021
                                                    • Launching virtual stores, powered by virtual reality
                                                      • Figure 21: Dyson Demo VR store through Oculus, 2021
                                                    • Launching online marketplaces
                                                      • Turning to NFTs and/or gaming as promotional mechanisms
                                                        • Figure 22: Rebecca Minkoff collection featuring NFTs, 2021
                                                        • Figure 23: Clinque competition featuring its first NFT, 2021
                                                        • Figure 24: Nike’s Nikeland virtual world, 2021
                                                        • Figure 25: Chipotle introduces Race to Rewards online video game experience, 2021
                                                    • Market Opportunities

                                                        • Make it personal
                                                          • Aid product discovery
                                                            • Figure 26: Amazon Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe, 2020
                                                          • Invest in tools to show product details
                                                            • Figure 27: Lovesac product demonstration, 2020
                                                        • The Consumer – Key Takeaways

                                                          • Multichannel shopping picks up as consumers return to stores, but online channel no less important
                                                            • Shopping is different in the COVID-19 era
                                                              • Consumers opt for the digital version of their preferred physical stores
                                                                • Basics first, experiences second…for now
                                                                  • Flexibility and choice lead to positive online experiences
                                                                    • Education, entertainment and community are important aspects of online retail experiences
                                                                      • Digital technology is a critical component of any online shopping experience
                                                                        • Social commerce is the new frontier
                                                                        • Channel Shifting

                                                                          • Two thirds of adults are shopping more online
                                                                            • Figure 28: Online shopping incidence since COVID-19, by generation, 2021
                                                                          • Despite more online shopping, the store maintains slight edge
                                                                            • The percentage of adults doing the majority of their shopping online has declined since April 2021
                                                                              • Figure 29: Percentage of total purchases made online, by generation, 2021
                                                                            • Nearly four in 10 consumers shop online at least weekly
                                                                              • The percentage of adults shopping at least weekly has also declined since April 2021
                                                                                • Figure 30: Online shopping frequency, 2021
                                                                              • Mobile now the preferred device for online shoppers
                                                                                • The percentage of adults shopping via mobile devices has increased since April 2021
                                                                                  • Figure 31: Device used when shopping online, 2021
                                                                                • The pendulum might continue to shift back and forth looking ahead
                                                                                  • Figure 32: Future online shopping expectations, by generation, 2021
                                                                              • Shopping Method by Category

                                                                                • Shopping levels remain below prepandemic benchmark for all categories
                                                                                  • Figure 33: Products shopped for – Prepandemic versus amid pandemic, 2020 versus 2021
                                                                                  • Figure 34: Products shopped for – Percentage point difference throughout the pandemic, 2021
                                                                                • Multichannel shopping reigns for all categories
                                                                                  • Figure 35: Multichannel shopping versus single-channel shopping, by category, 2021
                                                                                • Not only is multichannel shopping increasing, but shifts are occurring from stores to digital
                                                                                    • Figure 36: Where purchases occurred – By channel, by item, before and amid COVID-19, 2021 and 2020
                                                                                  • Online for searching; stores for buying with some exceptions
                                                                                    • Figure 37: Method of shopping, select categories, 2021
                                                                                • Shopping Behaviors

                                                                                  • Consumers take a more conscious approach to shopping
                                                                                      • Figure 38: Shopping behaviors, 2021
                                                                                      • Figure 39: Shopping behaviors, by gender and age, 2021
                                                                                  • Retailers Shopped Online

                                                                                    • Pure play retailers and mass merchandisers capturing more online shoppers
                                                                                      • Figure 40: Online shopping frequency at various retailers, 2021
                                                                                    • 25-44s are a sweet spot for online retailers, but new shoppers are coming from consumers of all ages
                                                                                      • Figure 41: Online shopping frequency at select retailers, by age, 2021
                                                                                  • Online Shopping Drivers

                                                                                    • Convenience and price lead the way as key drivers of online shopping
                                                                                      • Figure 42: Online shopping drivers, 2021
                                                                                      • Figure 43: Peet’s Coffee promotes digital holiday gifting, 2021
                                                                                    • Older shoppers prioritize safety; younger shoppers seek out fun
                                                                                      • Figure 44: Select online shopping drivers, by gender and age, 2021
                                                                                  • Important Factors when Shopping Online

                                                                                    • Flexible return policies are a top consideration
                                                                                      • Figure 45: Valued choices offered by online retailers, 2021
                                                                                    • Across ages, consumers look for different offerings
                                                                                      • Figure 46: Valued choices offered by online retailers, by gender and age, 2021
                                                                                  • Preferred Types of Online Retail Experiences

                                                                                    • Educational opportunities take priority
                                                                                      • Figure 47: Preferred types of online retail experiences, 2021
                                                                                    • Tailor online experiences to appeal across age and gender
                                                                                      • Figure 48: Preferred types of online retail experiences, by gender and age, 2021
                                                                                    • Multicultural consumers find digital experiences appealing, but vary in their preferences
                                                                                      • Figure 49: Preferred types of online retail experiences, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
                                                                                    • Parents want to interact with digital tech
                                                                                      • Figure 50: Preferred types of online retail experiences, by parental status, 2021
                                                                                      • Figure 51: Patagonia video, 2020
                                                                                      • Figure 52: Airbnb Online Experiences, 2020
                                                                                  • Online Shopping Frustrations

                                                                                    • Most pain points can be addressed with consistency and transparency, especially when it comes to pricing
                                                                                      • Figure 53: Online shopping frustrations, 2021
                                                                                      • Figure 54: Online shopping frustrations, by generation, 2021
                                                                                  • Awareness and Usage of Emerging Technologies

                                                                                    • Many consumers remain unaware of tech options, signaling need for education
                                                                                      • Figure 55: Attitudes toward technology at retail, 2021
                                                                                      • Figure 56: Awareness and usage of/interest in emerging technologies, 2021
                                                                                      • Figure 57: Awareness and usage of/interest in emerging technologies – Nets, 2021
                                                                                    • Younger men are leading adopters of tech at retail
                                                                                      • Figure 58: Usage of/interest in select emerging technologies, by gender and age, 2021
                                                                                      • Figure 59: Twitter and Walmart team up for livestream shopping event
                                                                                  • Attitudes toward Online Shopping Experiences

                                                                                    • Shopping experiences at retail should be able to be executed across channels, ensuring omnichannel approach
                                                                                      • Figure 60: Attitudes toward omnichannel offerings, 2021
                                                                                    • Brands need to be as clear as possible about product availability and descriptions
                                                                                      • Figure 61: Product-related attitudes, 2021
                                                                                    • Consumers are opening the door for retailers to get to know them on a more personal basis
                                                                                      • Figure 62: Attitude toward personalization, 2021
                                                                                    • Consumers don’t want to play games when it comes to prices
                                                                                        • Figure 63: Attitude toward pricing, by gender and age, 2021
                                                                                      • The basic shopping drivers apply to online shopping as well
                                                                                        • Figure 64: Attitude toward online shopping experiences – Part one, by gender and age; race and Hispanic origin, 2021
                                                                                        • Figure 65: Attitude toward online shopping experiences – Part two, by gender and age; race and Hispanic origin, 2021
                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                                        • Sales data
                                                                                          • Forecast
                                                                                            • Consumer survey data
                                                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                                  • Terms
                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                      • Figure 66: Total US retail sales and forecast, including ecommerce, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2016-26
                                                                                                      • Figure 67: Total US retail sales and forecast of ecommerce sales, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2016-26

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