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Following the peak sales period of November and December this Tracker will take a closer look at the trends the industry has experienced throughout 2004 and look ahead to what we can expect from 2005.

As predicted last month, sales across the network rose sharply towards the end of the year peaking on 13th December when over 35,000 online sales were made in a single day. The average order value over the Christmas trading period has also risen in 2004 to €168, a 9% increase on both last month’s figures and this time last year.

Over the course of the year, sales volumes increased by 119% from January to December – a comparable percentage increase to that seen in 2003. Average monthly sales volumes per month in 2004 rose by 152% compared to 2003, to 458,755. Average monthly sales values were also up, by 167%.

These increases are another proof point supporting the recognised growth in European online commerce and the definite belief that further strong growth will continue to be observed over the next twelve months.

A number of factors have shaped the growth of the e-commerce industry over 2004. Broadband penetration across Europe has escalated, consumers fears over the security of shopping online have eased and consumers are increasingly being offered an improved user experience by online retailers.

Also, as marketers allocate larger proportions of their budgets to the Internet as the benefits of online become more apparent to retailers, the growth of the industry has continued to outstrip all expectations.

January is expected to be another strong month as consumers make the most of the increasing number of January online sales, replicating the traditional offline retailers. Looking at trends over the previous three years we anticipate either Monday 10th or Monday 17th January to generate the largest transaction figures with total sales volumes on a single day peaking at around 27,500.

TradeDoubler anticipate’s online sales and leads to be boosted further still in 2005 as more global players within major sectors such as financial services, automotive and pharmaceutical increase their focus on the Internet as a highly profitable sales channel.

Sales Volume Trends comparing 2003 and 2004 in Leading Sectors

• Financial Services* – Average monthly sales during the final five months of 2004 have grown by 47% compared to 2003

This sector has followed the typical trends seen within the wider financial services industry with sales and leads peaking in the first quarter of the year. Consumer confidence within this area is steadily growing and TradeDoubler expects the first quarter of 2005 to be very strong followed by steady growth throughout the year as financial services companies do more to allay fears over online security and online banking becomes more widely accepted.
* Due to the technical process involved in reporting the performance of financial services clients, it has not been possible to include figures for sector for the first seven months of 2003.

• Consumer Electronics – Average monthly sales throughout 2004 have grown by 167% compared to 2003.

2003 saw sales within this sector dip slightly at the beginning of the year and plateau until August when the steep increase in sales prior to Christmas began. 2004 saw a very similar cyclical trend, however it was on a much larger scale with sales in December over 129% higher than the previous year.
As well as the increasing popularity of products within this sector, such as digital music players and digital cameras, the huge growth observed this year also indicates that electronics retailers are focusing more than ever on the Internet as a major sales channel.

• Telecoms - Average monthly sales throughout 2004 have grown by 20% compared to 2003.

Sales within the telecoms sector have followed a very different pattern in 2004 compared to the previous year. Whist Telecoms was one of the first sectors to really take off online, growth began to slow and later drop in 2004. The peak October to December period where this sector really flourished last year was not seen in 2004. There are a number of factors which have influenced this, the first being price; telecoms retailers do not always offer the attractive discounts that have traditionally enticed consumers to buy online in the past. Secondly, although mobile phones with all the latest gimmicks such as in-built camera’s and video recording were very popular as Christmas presents in 2003, the novelty would appear to have worn off this year as a significant rise in sales was not observed.

• Entertainment - Average monthly sales throughout 2004 have grown by 33% compared to 2003.

The entertainment sector has followed a similar pattern to 2003 but, unlike the electronics sector, sales over the last three months have been almost at an identical level to the same period last year. Once again this sector was very successful online before many others and appears to have reached a point of maturity. Products and services within this sector continue to sell extremely well online and are strongly affected by seasonal trends such as Christmas, however there has been less room for growth due to the huge success of this sector in 2003.

• Travel & Holidays - Average monthly sales throughout 2004 have grown by 108% compared to 2003.

This sector began to really take off online during 2003 with strong growth throughout the year. In the offline world, January to March are traditionally the strongest months within this sector as consumers book up their travel for the year and take advantage of travel companies’ early booking discounts. As this sector has further established itself online, so online sales in 2004 have mirrored traditional offline trends. The year started off with a huge growth in sales in January of over 100% from December 2003, sales over the summer remained strong and then, as expected, began to dip from September onwards. TradeDoubler anticipates this sector, along with financial services to experience a sharp growth in sales in January 2005 with travel sales well over 100% higher than those generated in December.

• Sales volumes throughout the two months show a similar pattern with week-on-week growth. The number of sales generated in a single day peaked on Monday 13th December with a total of 35,678 online transactions. During the month, Monday to Wednesday can be observed to be the strongest days of sales each week and Saturday the weakest

• Sales throughout January have followed a similar although increasingly pronounced pattern over the last three years with sales levels not far off those experienced prior to Christmas. Again, Mondays are the strongest day of the week. Looking at these past trends, TradeDoubler expects either Monday 10th or Monday 17th January to be the biggest day for sales in January 2005 with sales numbers peaking at around the 27,500 mark

• This graph shows trends in terms of sales value generated throughout the day on TradeDoubler’s peak day for pre – Christmas sales, Monday 13th December. Sales began to rise sharply from 08:30 and then levelled off from around 11:00 and throughout the afternoon and early evening. Another sharp increase was seen between 20:00 and 21:00 when almost €300.000 was tracked and generated for TradeDoubler’s clients within one hour

• Over the course of 2004 sales volumes have followed a very similar pattern of steady growth to that seen in 2003, with the increase becoming steeper in the final few month of the year as the effects of the festive shopping season were felt. Sales volumes per month rose by 119% from January to December 2004

• Sales values have peaked and dipped slightly more, particularly throughout the fist half of the year, however, overall sales values have increased by 97% from January to December 2004. Over €120,000 in sales value was tracked and generated through TradeDoubler’s network in December

• All sectors with the exception of the financial services and telecoms sectors have experienced growth month-on-month. The entertainment sector, in particular, has profited as a sector tied closely to Christmas shopping benefiting from an increase of 39%.

• Year on year the consumer electronics sector continues to show a steep increase in sales of 129%

* Sector specific data includes results from TradeDoubler’s top ten clients per sector

About TradeDoubler
Founded in 1999, TradeDoubler is the European leader in providing online marketing and sales solutions. Industry leaders all over Europe have partnered with TradeDoubler to work with performance-based marketing and to manage online relationships, in order to increase sales and improve online business. TradeDoubler is headquartered in Sweden with a presence in 15 other markets, and customers include Apple, Dell, John Lewis, Air France and Kelkoo. Please visit www.tradedoubler.com for further information.

Editorial Contacts
Bite Communications
Georgina Blizzard
T: +44 (0) 208 834 3460
E: georgina.blizzard@bitepr.com

William Cooper
T: +44 (0) 207 881 1404
E: will.cooper@tradedoubler.com

Published on: 12:00AM on 22nd February 2005