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More than a half of UK consumers now shop online as the value of digital basket exceeds a five-year average growth rate

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More than a half (55%) of UK consumers now shop more online than in-store compared to last year, says a new study.

Customers now shop online on average six times per month, with Generation Y saying that they buy on a retailers’ websites eight times per month and 27% of men and 25% of women report making an online shopping trip once a week, says eCommerce search and navigation specialists EmpathyBroker that examined current consumers shopping behaviour.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of the surveyed UK shoppers like to browse or have a general look around the website, with 13% reporting that they have an exact product in mind “every time” they shop online, and 33% saying that they browse online brands for “inspiration” about the latest trends. This explains why two in five (43%) of UK clients say that they’re more likely to make an unplanned purchase online than in a store.

The study also suggests that the cost of the product (58%), free delivery and return options (57%), the search function (29%) are the third most important aspects for consumers when an online retailer. Almost two-thirds (61%) of UK customers say that the use a search option “every time” or “a lot” when shopping online, with 64% of the surveyed UK consumers say that they’re less likely to buy something of this tool isn’t available.

Angel Maldonado, founder of eCommerce search and navigation experts EmpathyBroker says: “As we see more and more consumers going online, and more frequently, this presents a great opportunity for eCommerce retailers, but it also means more than ever they need to get the digital experience right.”
“Creating more memorable online experiences not only generates sales, it creates emotion, brand connection and loyalty. It’s no longer enough to offer great products or have the coolest store. It helps, yes, but in the end, it all comes back to emotions, to making people feel unique and special. Smart retailers are thinking more about people, relationships and creating memorable and joyful digital experiences.”

Ecommerce sales growth 

This philosophy is echoing in Capgemini IMRG eretail sales index report, which suggests that online retail has enjoyed a 16.8% an average year-on-year (YoY) growth during the first half of 2018.

Online UK sales saw a 15.3% YoY growth between January and March (Q1) with reduced high-street footfall driving shoppers to home spending. That’s the highest YoY above the average growth since 2011 in Q1 with the average basket value growing to the towering for the decade at £94, outshining the five-year average of £85. 

Ecommerce UK sales saw an 18% YoY increase in April and June (Q2). 

Some sectors benefitted from unseasonably hot weather in the UK. The garden sector enjoyed a YoY spike of 24.9%, with an extra 33.7% rise in warm months of April and June. Clothing has enjoyed the consistency of 16.3% YoY in Q1 and 17.8% YoY in Q2. Health and beauty experienced the best growth during the wintery months, with 18.6% YoY hike. That’s down to 16.8% YoY hike in Q2.

Despite the strong ecommerce growth, conversion rates for retailers saw a decline over every month except May. This could be accredited to the continued trend of mobile shopping which accounts for a larger share of total online sales but feature lower, albeit increasing, conversion rates. In fact, smartphone sales saw a 39% hike against last year’s Q2 results.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “The performance for online sales in the first half of the year has been a lot stronger than anticipated. There are a number of factors that may be influencing that – the extreme weather events (both hot and cold), the Royal Wedding, World Cup etc – and it might be possible that the feelgood elements associated with some of those events have encouraged people to spend a bit beyond their means.”

“This could mean that we see a pinch on shopper spend as we move through Q3 – through the weather in July has been incredibly hot – which may lead to an imbalance in online retail growth between the first and second halves of the year.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement, Capgemini: “The year started with a lot of doom and gloom and uncertainty around retail. What has been encouraging is how well online retail has performed in H1, particularly in seasonal categories like Clothing and Garden. These two sectors have delivered higher basket values (+38.0% and + 19.6% YoY respectively), with consumers becoming impulsive in their purchases as they refreshed summer wardrobes and prepared for more time spent outside.”

“Despite that online-only retailer outperformed multichannel retailers during most of H1, with average growth at +18.6% and +14.7% respectively, multichannel actually closed the gap on last year’s YOY growth. Basket value growth was also stronger for multichannel retailers, with a +4% (YoY) increase in average basket value to £100.77, compared to only +2% (YoY) for online only retailers at £87.77. It demonstrates the continued importance of an omnichannel presence for retailers – a focus on connected retail will help ensure that the ecommerce sales performance outlasts the good weather.”

Image credit: Fotolia

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