As part of a whitepaper I’m writing I’ve been looking into some of the stats around the impact that ecommerce has on the UK economy and thought I’d share a couple of introductory paragraphs.
Ecommerce in the UK is big, and it’s only going to get bigger.
In 2010 13.5% of all UK retail was conducted online (£65bn), placing the UK as the top G-20 country in terms of ecommerce’s contribution to the economy1. Throw in another £55bn of sales that are made offline but researched online and you begin to get the picture of exactly how important online is for the British economy. Predictions for 2016 put the contribution of online purchases as high as 23% (£146.6bn), that’s 12.4% of the whole of the UK’s expected GDP2.
We all seem to have caught the ecommerce bug: 54% of UK men browse online shops every couple of days, while 47% of women do the same. The average online shopping browse in the UK lasts 30 minutes to an hour, while 84% of UK men and women surf between one and five sites per online shopping trip3. By the end of 2011 98% of UK shoppers had made a purchase online, with 65% of them saying they had made a purchase in the last 30 days4. Indeed when faced with something that can be bought both online and in store 34% of UK shoppers now say they would prefer to buy online5.
In this troubled world economy ecommerce is one of the few areas of success and something that the UK can feel justifiably proud of.
The strange and contradictory British buyer
However for many of us involved in Ecommerce, despite these incredible numbers, business seems to be getting tougher and tougher. Competition has grown and profits have been squeezed. In 2006, the average online conversion rate for retailers was 8.4%, by 2011 the figure was just 3.8%, a fall of 55%6.
Over the last six years, while the UK public has been developing its love of ecommerce, it has also been changing its behaviours and attitudes, often in very confusing and contradictory ways. Convenience is still the primary reason given by UK consumers for shopping online (70%) however the increasingly savvy shopper is also looking to find lower prices (59%)7.
Bargain hunting and coupon clipping have become mainstay behaviours of many British shoppers, but at the same time premium brands and ‘luxury’ goods have equally blossomed online.
For many online buyers purchasing is now longer and more convoluted than ever; involving search engines, websites, social media and the mobile channels. (65% of us now use our smartphones in store; to check prices, products reviews and make brand comparisons.) 87% of UK consumers spend at least 24 hours researching a purchase of over £200. In many ways our ‘path to purchase’ has become more an odyssey than a journey.
Yet despite all this searching, researching and channel hopping, 43% of UK online shoppers still buy on impulse8.