Here’s a story that will interest of anyone trading within, or looking to launch in, the UK – ecommerce sales broke the £100 billion barrier for the first time in 2014.
According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, online shopping grew 14% in Britain last year, with a further 12% growth predicted for 2015.
Christmas proved a particularly strong period for ecommerce brands operating in the UK, with activity up 13% on the previous years. In total, consumers spent £21.6 billion during the festive period, fuelled by the growing influence of Black Friday on European markets; it’s estimated that £810 was spent by online shoppers on that day alone (28th November 2014).
What does this mean for ecommerce retailers?
Milestones like this in any market are significant, as it demonstrates the maturation of ecommerce and how comfortable British shoppers feel when buying goods online.
Nearly £1 in every £4 is now spent online in the UK, but that’s only half the story. British consumers are also bringing the influence of ecommerce into their offline journeys, using their smart phones to look up products in store. Therefore, even if the final transaction is made in a shop, for retailers with both an online and offline presence, getting your digital offering right is of crucial importance.
But the latest results aren’t all cause for celebration in the UK. The greater force ecommerce becomes, the more saturated the market grows. This can make launching in new geographies very challenging, and staying competitive amid stiff competition even more difficult.
Is Black Friday the new focus for businesses in the UK?
When it comes to standout promotions such as Black Friday, performance should be noted – but not relied upon for future success. Placing your eggs in one basket this year could cannibalise other events within the festive period, as consumers become overwhelmed by the number of deals available, or simply don’t find Black Friday the same appeal as they did last year.
It’s important to remember that Black Friday is a relatively new phenomenon within Europe, so it doesn’t have the same established attraction as within the USA. Even here, retailers are investing in other promotions to stagger the enormous operational strain placed on their staff and systems.
How can e-tailers tap into opportunities in 2015?
One of the key battlegrounds for retailers this year, particularly within Europe, will be capturing business from mobile shoppers. As we mentioned earlier, consumers are using their smart phones to look up product information and prices in stores, however direct mobile commerce has skyrocked by more than 50% in the last 12 months.
Ecommerce retailers must adapt to this trend by creating responsive websites, which optimize layouts for all devices. This will support people purchasing goods through their phones or tablets, as the number is set to rise yet again in 2015.