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2015: For E-tailers, It Was A Very Good Year

2015 was another banner year for digital commerce, with U.S. online consumer goods sales growing 33 percent year-over-year for the January through November period.

Indeed, through November of this year 1010data had tracked more than $80 billion spent at over 100 online retailers.

As 2015 comes to an end, the consumer electronics industry is finalizing preparations for the journey to Las Vegas for the annual CES mega trade event on Jan. 6. (If you are a first-timer there are only two tips you need: drink tons of water — it’s the desert, after all — and bring comfortable shoes!)

Ahead of the hectic week we looked back at this year in online sales just before we turn the clock to 2016. Here are the key takeaways:

Hyper-Growth Categories: Two categories stood out from the pack: smart watches and virtual reality (VR) glasses.

The smart watch category was brought into the mainstream when Apple launched Apple Watch and quickly rose to market-share leader ahead of industry pioneers Pebble, Samsung and Motorola.

It should be noted that the VR segment experienced exponential growth primarily because it barely existed in 2014. Samsung has driven this category with its Virtual Gear glasses, which sold for an average street price of $125. The bulk of other VR glasses are the affordable, cardboard viewers made popular by Google at about $20 per pop.

Growth Categories: The data indicates we just can’t get enough of our cellphones and need to keep those babies charged at all times. Mobile car charger sales grew over 80 percent in the last year.

And we certainly love our audio. Speakers (71 percent), headphones (56 percent) and soundbars (44 percent) accounted for approximately $2 billion in total spend this year.

Elsewhere, the PC industry saw a refresh cycle as Microsoft launched Windows 10 this summer to quite positive reviews. 

The Big Brands: 2015 was a banner year for traditional PC makers too as Lenovo, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Asus and Apple all grew at a faster rate than the total e-commerce market.

In case you are wondering, even though it appears further down the list, Apple was no slouch in 2015— it grew 37 percent year-over-year and was the largest revenue-generating brand by more than double Samsung. Its base was just significantly larger than the rest, which accounts for the lower YoY growth.

Our Methodology

1010data’s Ecom Insights panel consists of millions of online shoppers in the U.S. who allow us to anonymously track their online behavior for market research purposes, including e-commerce activity.

 1010data applies advanced, proprietary statistical modeling, machine learning, and data science techniques to ensure that its panel is representative of the Internet browsing population in the U.S. and suitable to extrapolate observations to the broader population. 

Retailers measured include the top 100 online mass retailers in the United States that – according to 1010data’s estimates – make up over 95 percent of the total spend on all hard line goods ordered online.

What’s Up Next From 1010data

Next week, as part of a partnership with TWICE, we will be announcing the winners of our 2015 eCommerce Awards.

Come back to on Jan. 6 to learn who the winners are, or read about them at CES in the pages of the official CES Daily, produced by TWICE and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

 And throughout 2016 be sure to check out TWICE and the 1010data blog for more sales trends and consumer behavior across the tech marketplace.

Samir Bhavnani is area VP of 1010data, which provides hundreds of the world’s largest retail, manufacturing, telecom, and financial services enterprises with actionable insight from its cloud-based big data platform.