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GUEST COMMENT UK ecommerce success and what the future holds

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Reports from the Office of National Statistics have positioned the UK as riding the ecommerce wave. Although we’ve seen an increase in ecommerce across Europe, the UK has proved most successful with 79% of Brits ordering online in 2014. This is a significant increase on last 10 years ago, rising from 44% in 2005. On average, a UK online shopper spends more than £6,000 a year online, according to a recent Tryzens study.

Following just behind the UK are Denmark (78%) and Norway (77%), suggesting that Scandinavian retailers are just as insightful when it comes to making the most of online shopping tactics. However, the same year saw only 10% of Romanians and 22% of Italians shopping online, considerably lower than their European counterparts.

Such contrasting statistics beg the question, what can successful online retailers like the Brits and Scandinavians teach other European online retailers about optimising their sales?

How technology can help

The results of the ONS study suggest that UK retailers are not only offering the best products, but are utilising the right technologies to optimise and streamline the booking process on their channels, ensuring that their customers enjoy an easy and stress-free shopping experience.

A study from Computer Weekly found that almost a quarter of UK businesses employed IT specialists in 2013; this is above the EU average of 20%. British retailers are becoming increasingly aware of the options available and are implementing online logistics tools to generate better sales.

Leveraging online marketplaces

Statistics show that 95% of UK retailers sell their goods via online marketplaces, and it is safe to say that they are reaping the benefits. A multi-marketplace distribution strategy will significantly increase how many people are viewing your stock, especially when the majority of shoppers visit more than one marketplace when looking to buy an item. Furthermore, most major marketplaces (such as Amazon, eBay, Zalando, Rakuten, Spartoo) have adapted to the m-commerce trend by creating mobile friendly features. As a result, retailers do not need to create their own expensive apps or worry about whether their own website is optimised for mobiles or tablets.

With the Christmas season fast-approaching, some retailers may be put off by the perceived time and cost needed to distribute on multiple marketplaces simultaneously. However, there is plenty of technology available to help centralise and automate the process of marketing your catalogue to ensure that the right product line is put in front of the right customers. These marketing campaigns can be tailored to maximise value in a short period of time and cater for every budget.

Which delivery options are on offer

Hand-in-hand with the growth of m-commerce is advanced shipping options for online consumers. This year, we’ve also seen many UK retailers adapting their delivery options to meet with the increasing demands of consumers. Retailers are needing to be more generous and consumer-focused in their delivery strategy if they want to compete. This is why it is important to provide a range of delivery options, to offer more flexibility to customers based on their preferences: home delivery, relay points, Click and Collect, lockers, etc. Delivery is a real marketing tool for inspiring loyalty. According to IMRG, more than half of online buyers may have chosen a retailer based on social media comments about delivery they offer. Moreover, consumers are becoming increasingly reluctant to pay more for premium delivery services.

Last year Argos introduced same-day delivery to all of its UK online shoppers. Such development is proof that the more options you give your customers, the more likely it is they’ll want to choose you over other online retailers.

What can we expect this year?


The British ecommerce market size is continuously growing and is expected to be worth £60.25bn in 2016. Studies and trends show that multichannel retailing is here to stay. Brands must be present both offline and online to succeed. The nature of online sales has changed owing to the added dimension of multi-channel marketplaces, and buyers everywhere are in search of the right product and the best service simultaneously. Synergy between online and offline services, and the right technology, should allow businesses to structure their product offer, optimise order management and better meet the needs of customers.

In order to effectively leverage multichannel retailing, brands need to focus on the most successful sales channels for their target market in both their physical stores, on the sites of distributors and on international marketplaces. The challenge is to streamline the distribution and marketing strategies to make them consistent on every channel.


Mobile is growing at an increasingly fast pace and as part of their new year’s resolutions, UK retailers need to adapt to the growth of mobile commerce (or m-commerce). It seems people don’t just want to shop from home, they want to do it on the move using the handiest device available.

John Lewis’ annual ‘How we Shop, Live and Look’ retail report has announced that their m-commerce revenues rose by 68% in the past year. Furthermore, IMRG findings estimate that smartphone sales grew by 42% in 2015, while ecommerce grew overall by a more restrained 11%.

UK retailers must respond accordingly to the increasingly mobile world we live in. It is important that retailers integrate technologies to gain maximum international exposure and help optimise the shopping and delivery journey, yet it is equally important that they adapt these on-site strategies for mobile as well as desktop. Ultimately, the best retailers listen and respond to the needs of their customers.

Greg Zemor is CEO of Neteven.

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