E-commerce might be a small fraction of total retail sales, writes WSL Strategic Retail, but for certain categories, online shopping has reached a level that has retailers rethinking the space allocated in stores. (We’ve all seen what happened to books, music and electronics, and more recently with shoes and fragrance.) In a recent Pulse report, WSL examined what shoppers are buying online now, and what categories have the most potential to shift online in the near future.

• In a study that tracked shoppers’ intentions to buy 36 categories online, WSL found that facial skin care, lip care, cosmetics and hair care are poised as categories “next to climb” in online sales, with 40%-59% of people saying they’re likely to switch to buying them online.

• Categories with the largest online potential are generally those where it’s easier to browse an extensive selection from a computer rather than travelling to stores. (Kids toys and games lead in this, followed by computers, electronics and bags.)
• Generally, Health and Beauty categories have longer purchase cycles with regular replenishment. (Facial skin care, vitamins, cosmetics and hair care rank tops.)
• Top reasons for not shopping online are: not wanting to pay shipping costs; touching and feeling items are important; returning items purchased online is a hassle.
• Online retailers are overcoming barriers: Sephora.com allows online shoppers to try on different shades of nail color, with the option to change skin tone, nail shape and nail length to visualize a more personalized look.