According to a new report by global research and advisory firm Forrester, UK online sales are and will continue growing faster than the US. The European Online Retail Forecast 2013 to 2018 found that UK online retail sales would reach £57.6bn by 2018, up from £37.2bn in 2013, representing 15% of total retail sales. In comparison, Forrester forecast that total US online retail sales would reach $414 billion by 2018, accounting for just 11 per cent of all retail sales. The increase in UK online sales is a result of a compound annual growth of twelve per cent a year between 2013 and 2018.
UK ecommerce sales continue to soar ahead of the US.
Clothing is currently the largest online sales category in Europe and will remain so through to 2018, growing at a rate of 11% a year. Although clothing is the largest online sales category, online groceries are the fastest growing sales category. It is estimated that online groceries will surpass consumer electrics to become the second largest sales category by 2018, growing by 16.3% a year.
Online groceries are the fastest growing sales category.
Why is the UK doing so well?
The UK currently has the highest proportion of total retail sales coming from online channels. It is thought that this is down to the fact that more European consumers shop online for convenience and to purchase the products they cannot find elsewhere. The soaring figures are also driven by a combination of the increasing number of customers shopping online and retailers providing excellent ecommerce experiences.
Something that UK ecommerce businesses appear to be mastering well is optimising their websites for mobile devices. Many UK websites now have mobile versions of their ecommerce websites or have invested in responsive web designs to ensure that the needs and requirements of smartphone and tablet shoppers are being met. This is something that ecommerce businesses around the globe need to do if they want to stand a chance at increasing their sales year on year.
What does this mean for UK ecommerce businesses?
With online sales growing at a significant rate in the UK, now is the ideal time to start an ecommerce business. Whilst setting up an ecommerce business is considerably cheaper than setting up a traditional brick and mortar store, as you do not have the same rent and utility bills to account for, it is still worth investing in your online presence if you want to stand the best chance at beating competitors.
One thing we would highly recommend investing in is a responsive web design to provide a more consistent user experience between different devices. This will prevent you from alienating a potentially large proportion of your customer base made up of smartphone and tablet users. Investing in a responsive web design can also help you save money in the long run and boost your site’s SEO, driving more traffic through to your ecommerce website.
It is also worth putting effort into providing fast and cost-effective delivery to customers. This will go a long way in making your UK ecommerce business stand out from the rest.
With Forrester estimating that the percentage of European internet users who buy online will grow from 65% in 2013 to 75% in 2018, now is the optimal time to set up and invest in your ecommerce business. Whilst you will need to put time, effort and money into your ecommerce website, in order to increase your online presence and make it a success, with online sales in the UK growing at such a rapid rate it only seems sensible that business owners take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.