skip to Main Content
ECommerce Industry Year In Review – 2010

eCommerce Industry Year in Review – 2010

As 2010 comes to an end, let’s review what happened last year in the world of eCommerce…

2010 was a memorable year for the eCommerce industry as a whole – After a lackluster 2009 for eCommerce sales, comScore reported increased sales in Q1 (10%), Q2 (9%), and Q3 (9%) from one year ago. Cyber Monday 2010 was also the first day in the history of eCommerce to surpass the billion dollar mark and holiday spending during the holiday season increased 17% from last year. The holiday season push was led by Wal-Mart, who offered free shipping with no minimum purchase and other retailers followed suit with free shipping offers.

Mergers and collaborations galore – 2010 certainly was not short of mergers and collaborations in eCommerce industry. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the major events…

  • Amazon and Microsoft agreed to share access to their patent portfolios
  • Demandware rolled out its LINK program which offers a wide-array of eCommerce services into its platform
  • VISA purchased credit card payment service CyberSource
  • IBM acquired Sterling Commerce, Unica, and Coremetrics
  • eBay acquired the mobile price scanning service RedLaser and local shopping engine Milo
  • Google purchased ITA software (travel-industry software company)
  • Research in Motion acquired mobile storefront platform Cellmania
  • Oracle acquired ATG
  • Amazon invested $175 million in local deals site LivingSocial and purchased daily deal site Woot


But arguably the biggest and most talked about merger was one that never happened when Google proposed to buy Groupon for $6 billion dollars and the deal fell through.

Tablet devices change eCommerce – The most talked about tech device in 2010 was without question the iPad. Not only did the iPad prove skeptics wrong but it easily became the most desired tech device of 2010, so much so that some retailers are creating specific version of their sites just for the iPad. Research was also released by Shopatron showing iPad users have a much higher conversion rate for eCommerce transactions than users of other mobile / tablet devices.

The app craze continues – Although the app market is not uniquely new to 2010, smartphone usage is still increasing and retailers are taking notice. More retailers and sites such as Groupon and FreshDirect launched iPhone apps and mobile version of their sites to cater to mobile users. The Andriod marketplace also emerged, forcing retailers to create device specific apps for Android phones. Many comparative and product information apps, such as Tecca, were also launched to aid shoppers in making smart purchasing decisions as mobile usage for comparative shopping also increased.

Mobile devices become Swiss Army knives – The iPhone 4 was also released in 2010 and it’s becoming less of a phone and more of a “do everything” device than ever before. Location check-in device FourSquare released their API for marketers to use and added backend analytics to make their service more valuable for businesses. They also found some competition this year as Yelp and Facebook Places launched similar services. Some major mobile efforts included Starbucks launching a mobile payments and loyalty program and Holiday Inn testing a new mobile hotel key. Android phones are also looking to replace credit cards with mobile devices in the future by supporting near-field communication technology.

Making eCommerce easier – Verizon rolled out BillToMobile which allows eCommerce transactions to be billed to your mobile plan, QR codes (pictured above) start to emerge in print media, making it more interactive and allowing you to register for contests and free product samples with ease. More retailers adopted and expedited the “ordering online, in-store pickup” process. Apple TV was enhanced and Google TV was launched, looking to integrate their service offerings and your television… which I’m sure will be talked about more in 2011.

eCommerce on social media – 2010 was a big year for retailers and social media as the integration of the two flourished. For example, EasyJet and Delta Airlines added a booking engine to their Facebook pages and Levi’s integrated Facebook and together to create a social shopping experience. Disney also joined the fray and put movie tickets for sale on Facebook and JC Penney opened a fully-functional online store within Facebook. The Facebook “Like” button launched and became a mainstay on eCommerce sites small and large along with social sharing bars and widgets. Twitter launches the @earlybird daily deals site, Amazon began tapping into Facebook for social product recommendations, and comparative shopping site TheFind became integrated within Facebook.

Government involvement in eCommerce – As the eCommerce industry continues to grow it continues to garner attention from North American and European governments. In Europe, France wanted a piece of Google’s ad revenue and new European Commission guidelines were put in place to facilitate cross-country shipping. Across the Atlantic, Colorado launched an eCommerce sales tax, states investigated Google’s data collection methods, and Amazon paid Texas $270 million in back taxes. eCommerce privacy rights were also a hot topic in both the U.S. and Europe.

eCommerce in China – International eCommerce was a focal point in 2010, with China as one of the top countries eCommerce experts are watching. Google decided not to filter its search results in China after a long standoff with the Chinese government, eventually moving their headquarters to Hong Kong. Amazon however did decide to censor certain products from searches, Wal-Mart invested China’s largest consumer electronics retailer, and Gap expanded their retail efforts into China. Apple also brought their online retail store to China in 2010.

Private sale sites continue to emerge – Many private sale sites saw significant growth and the “Kayak” of private sales, comparative shopping site MyNines, was launched. Our last blog post touched on the private sale industry, you can read it here.

Old technology phased out – With the emergence of new technology, some old habits die hard. Google dropped support for the popular Internet Explorer 6 browser. Demand for HTML5 skills were on the rise as demand for Flash skills decrease, led by Netflix optimizing all of their efforts with HTML5. Netflix also replaced the New York Times in the S&P 500.

Well that’s a wrap! As you can see, it certainly was a busy year for the eCommerce industry and I’m sure 2011 will be no different.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at PFSweb and thanks for reading!