APS Fulfillment, Inc. (www.APSFulfillment.com), one of the nation’s leading cost-effective fulfillment and integrated direct mail marketing companies, is weighing in on how much e-commerce has changed since online retail shipping was “born” in August 1994.

“While commercial transactions have occurred online for quite some time, the first retail transaction using data encryption software occurred on August 11, 1994,” says Charles Aultman, president of APS Fulfillment, Inc. “Over the ensuing 20 years, e-commerce evolved from being a fad to revolutionizing the shopping experience, by making it more convenient, customizable, and cheaper than shopping in a physical store.” (Source: Lewis, P.H., “Attention Shoppers: Internet Is Open,” The New York Times, August 12, 1994; www.nytimes.com/1994/08/12/business/attention-shoppers-internet-is-open.html.)

Aultman explains that analysts predicted that online shopping would become a $5.0-billion industry in just a few years. The U.S. Census Bureau reported e-commerce sales hit $5.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 1999 alone. In 2014, e-commerce sales in the U.S. are projected to hit $304 billion and close in on the $500-billion mark by 2018. (Source: “U.S. retail e-commerce sales from 2010 to 2018,” Statista.com; www.statista.com/statistics/272391/us-retail-e-commerce-sales-forecast/, last accessed August 22, 2014.)

He also notes that technology has helped drive the rapid change the personalized e-commerce industry has experienced over the last 20 years. To attract and maintain a loyal customer relationship, firms need to ensure that customers have a seamless online shopping experience, get what they ordered, and receive it when promised. A failure on any of these fronts will damage a brand’s reputation and bottom line.

“To ensure brand loyalty, today’s retailers need to be proactive and hire a fulfillment company that can deliver on their shipping promises and exceed their customers’ expectations,” Aultman adds. “The best way to accomplish this goal is to use a fulfillment company with a state-of-the-art facility, a fast and accurate pick-and-pack rate, and real-time shipping. Also, because of its close proximity to all major transportation hubs, brands that use APS Fulfillment, Inc. can have their products received, inventoried, and shipped in just two days.”

“What’s the future of e-commerce? During the second quarter, U.S. retail e-commerce sales increased 4.9% to $75.0 billion, but accounted for just 6.4% of total sales. By 2018, e-commerce will account for 18% of all sales and experience a compound annual growth rate of 9.5%,” Aultman concludes. “Brands that want to take advantage of the fastest-growing retail channel need to make the shopping experience, such as checkout, as easy as possible. Brands also need to ensure their fulfillment company can get high order volumes shipped accurately and on time.” (Source: “Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales, 2nd Quarter 2014,” U.S. Census Bureau web site, August 15, 2014; www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pdf.)

APS Fulfillment, Inc. is one of the United States’ leading cost-effective fulfillment and integrated direct mail marketing companies, offering affordable and real-time fulfillment services to small, medium, and large companies. Its state-of-the-art technology provides turnkey solutions for high-volume perfect-match mailings, personalized direct mail, snap-pak mailers, postcards, and triple-tabbed booklets. More information on APS Fulfillment, Inc. is available by visiting the firm’s web site at www.APSFulfillment.com or by calling 954-582-7450.