E-Commerce Investments Pay Off Big as Coronavirus Keeps Shoppers Home

Retailers from Home Depot Inc. to Nestlé SA and AutoNation Inc. have accelerated their e-commerce efforts to keep up with a rush to online shopping impelled by coronavirus precautions.

Technology executives have overseen the rollout of projects aimed at making it easier to browse and buy online while minimizing contact with in-store employees, a trend that will likely continue even once the pandemic subsides.

US e-commerce sales are forecast to grow 18% to $709.8 billion this year, according to a June report from market research firm eMarketer. E-commerce is expected to represent 14.5% of total retail sales this year—a record, according to the firm. This week, retailers including Walmart Inc., Target Corp. and Lowes Cos. reported surging e-commerce sales for their most recent quarters.

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At Home Depot, online sales doubled in the quarter ended Aug. 2, representing more than 14% of the approximately $38.1 billion of net sales, a spokesman for the company said Wednesday. That proportion was up from about 9% in the same period last year. Total sales growth in the quarter—23%—was the company’s strongest in nearly 20 years, it said…  The Wall Street Journal

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