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The success of online retail continues to grow. In 2013, annual sales rose by 41.7 percent compared to the previous year to reach EUR 39.1 billion. Online marketplaces topped the rankings with total sales of EUR 26.0 billion, followed by multichannel mail-order companies with a sales of EUR 7.4 billion and online pure players with a sales of EUR 4.7 billion. The online retail sector also looks set to perform well in 2014.

The largest sales driver for interactive retail in 2013 was the apparel industry, a product category that generated a total volume of EUR 11.6 billion. Books were on second place with a total sales of EUR 5.3 billion, and consumer electronics and electronic products ranked on third place with sales of EUR 4.0 billion.

Given such rapid growth and the increasing number of new providers and business models together with the high level of transparency afforded by product and price comparison sites, one area of business is still of crucial importance in the area of online retail: logistics.

But what strategies are most suitable when it comes to ensuring high sales while maintaining a clear overview of logistics costs? Do online retailers prefer to manage or to outsource their core logistics processes? And how do the market leaders keep control of their inventory and the number of returns?

These are some of the questions that form part of the present BearingPoint market survey of 30 leading online retailers in Germany from different sectors and with different levels of turnover and business models. The results provide an indication of the current tendencies concerning online retail logistics as well as an overview of requirements and specific approaches to improve the online retail business.

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