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EDITORIAL The changing drivers of online growth

Online shopping is only going to get bigger

Online shopping is only going to get bigger

Online retail is clearly the path to growth. According to the UK specific Digital 2020 report from Hootsuite and WeAreSocial, the total value of the UK B2C ecommerce market is calculated to be around $233bn and has grown at 11% year on year between 2018 and 2019.

In fact, ecommerce now accounts for 19% of total retail spend. Mobile has a 55% share of this.

Separately, research conducted by YouGov for parcel locker provider InPost, reveals that 45 to 54-year olds are the most prolific online shoppers – making in excess of 50 online purchases a year (meaning at least one order a week) –confounding popular opinion that millennials dominate internet purchasing. In fact, 18 to 24-year olds (28%) and 25 to 34-year olds (19%) make a far more modest one to10 online orders per year.

We all know that the world of retail has changed – but the drivers for retail have also changed. Where once ecommerce was seen as the upstart that was eyeing up traditional retail’s lunch, now it has not only eaten the old order’s sandwiches, but is also making inroads into its cheese and onion crisps and has popped its can of Vimto in its pocket for later.

Where once ecommerce was something that young people did, now it is totally mainstream – with us oldies now dominating its use – and spend has gone up accordingly. That aside, all the things that Gen Z and millennials wanted from their ecommerce – ease of use, speed, flexible delivery and, well, an ‘experience’ – everyone now demands.

And this is having a huge impact on retail and where retail growth comes from. While the Growth 2000 companies are a mix online pure-plays and omni-channellers, growth for all is going to come from online – but only for those that tap into this now ubiquitous experience led paradigm.

In fashion, for example, reviews and videos are increasingly becoming a key part of the purchase journey, across multiple channels – and by that I mean online channels: online, mobile and social – to drive sales.

In consumer electronics too, YouTube is now more popular as a search result click through than Curry’s PC World or Argos.

Sustainability is also becoming a watchword, with consumers ever more eager to share their views on the ‘green’ credentials of the retailers they do business with and many willing to jump brand ship if they feel that a merchants isn’t doing its bit to save the world.

All this together paints a very new picture of what online retail and online retail growth means. Online has seen strong growth in 2019 and more to come in 2020, but why that growth is happening is no longer for the reasons it was 12 months ago. Adapting to this changing landscape is what will drive sales in the year ahead.

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