As more and more consumers have turned toward online shopping as a means of acquiring goods and services, online retailers like Amazon have exploded, as is evidenced by their over $900 billion market cap.
Nevertheless, a growing number of retailers and restaurants over the past few weeks have reported explosive growth of e-commerce sales. One prime example is Lululemon, who on Wednesday said that online sales this past quarter grew 35%. Brick and mortar retailer Target’s online sales were up 42%, and retail giant Walmart stated it had 37% digital growth. Dick’s Sporting Goods’ online sales were up 15%, while Best Buy’s digital commerce in the U.S. grew 14.5%.
“Now, it’s easier in some ways to be a late mover,” in retailing online, Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview.
One factor that could be providing these brick and mortar companies such as Lululemon and Walmart a leg up is timing. They didn’t have to “reinvent the wheel” online, Kodali said, but instead have been able to take “best practices” from other companies such as Amazon, which commenced as an online bookstore in 1995. In Walmart’s case, that transformation has involved acquisitions of start-ups such as Jet.com that have given it a deep pool of young and experienced tech talent.
Another boon for conventional retail stores is how they can market their proximity to consumers, using convenience services. Traditional retailers are finally getting the hang of offering services such as curbside pickup and buy online pick up in store, helping boost online sales but also cutting back on shipping costs for the company.
Lululemon, for example, mentioned this quarter about their interest in expanding buy online and pick up in store options. Nearly 150 of its roughly 440 stores now offer the service, the company said, and it aims to grow that option across its entire store base by the end of the third quarter.
A report by an Internet Retailer showed that the best “omnichannel” retailers in the country today, or companies that are best utilizing their stores to help with their e-commerce businesses and vice versa, are Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Lowe’s and J.C. Penney, in that order.
Investors looking to participate in the conventional retail space using ETFs might consider the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT).
Alternatively, investors who believe there’s a long-term decline in traditional retail ahead, can consider the ProShares Long Online/Short Stores ETF (NYSEArca: CLIX), which is a long/short ETF or the more traditional ProShares Online Retail ETF (NYSEArca: ONLN). ONLN focuses on long position in online retailers.
For investing ideas, visit our Core ETF Channel.