The U.K. is the leading European e-commerce nation as it continues to benefit from a remarkable e-commerce culture.
A highly mature market in 2012, the U.K. has already registered €67.74 billion in online sales. This number represents a growth of 14 percent over the 2011 -- 2012 fiscal period.
By 2016, the British e-commerce market is expected to bring in approximately €183.47 billion.
The English market counts 36.8 million daily internet users among its 61.5 million inhabitants, 26.9 million of which are online shoppers.
Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of British e-commerce.
Several delivery solutions are offered in order to reach all online shoppers.
Andy Mulcahy, Communications Director of British e-commerce association IMRG, explains, "given that it’s a mature market of demanding consumers, being able to provide an excellent distribution is now an entry-level requirement."
The statistics support his argument
Seventy-six percent of English online shoppers consider delivery as an important aspect of their online purchase.
"Distribution reinforces the brand," confirms Mulcahy. "So work on making your delivery effective, as it plays a crucial role in English e-commerce sales."
A mature market that’s hard to break into
A 2011 Eurostat survey shows that 82 percent of British Internet users have already ordered products or services online. So e-commerce is already a habit!
According to Mulcahy, "by 2020, eight percent of retail sales will be online sales." This is quite an impressive figure, and again revealing of how mature this U.K. market is.
The United Kingdom boasts several criteria encouraging to the flourishing of e-commerce, which includes a relatively wealthy population, high speed Internet, and a "small" territory for transport coverage.
Having said that, it’s also important to have a thorough knowledge of the finer points of e-commerce legislation. Once you do, the English market can be very lucrative, as the average basket per person is around 170 Euros.
The e-commerce culture is already a deep part of English culture. British consumers are educated consumers, and they demand the solid presentation of online products in a reliable purchasing environment (delivery, customer service etc.).
They’re also very open to new ideas, particularly in terms of new information and communication technologies (ICTs).
If you have an innovative product or service, the British market could be for you!
The importance of the mobile channel
The importance of mobiles is a particular focus in British Internet business.
Karin Von Abrams, a consultant with eMarketer explains, "a large number of British consumers use their phones to take photos of products that they want to buy, to check out other customers opinions, compare prices, consult friends and family, locate retail outlets, or put products in their virtual shopping basket."
M-commerce follows the same purchasing trends that emerged when e-commerce first began. Consumers start by buying smaller items, like books or DVDs, before moving on to larger purchases like clothing or household appliances.
A market dominated by major retailers
Compared to French e-commerce, online businesses by themselves are not a big part of the English market. In the U.K., it’s mainly major retailers who have online extensions of their store(s). These companies are generally heavyweights like Dixon, or Argos, who’ve developed a multichannel offer.
Even so, the market remains open to companies hoping to launch online directly, without a brick and mortar business. If that’s you, then go for it!
A promising future
Electronic commerce is a global market, so even if the English e-business market is a mature one, its international growth potential is still very encouraging. Mulcahy elaborates, "cross-border business provides the UK with important growth opportunities in developing markets around the world."
Click and collect
E-commerce will evolve towards a "click and collect" model. What does that mean exactly? It means involving stores more in online shopping. For example, checking the availability of a product near you, reserving it (with or without payment) and then picking it up later. Here the consumer doesn’t use the Internet to buy the product, but just to find it and reserve it. Generally, the consumer then pays upon collection.
This process will revolutionize the English e-commerce market, and offers considerable expansion possibilities for all e-tailers.
Don’t overlook this business model, popular with the Brits. Sell in store, through the Net !
So what are you waiting for? Get going!