The sensational growth of the UK Ecommerce market and how to get involved

You’ve probably heard the serious concerns about the state of the UK’s high street, with various well-established retailers such as House of Frasers, Debenhams, Habitat, Woolworths to name a few, struggling and some even shutting up shop over the last decade. The underlining issue affecting these retailers has been the incredible rise of ecommerce as a much more efficient and convenient way of shopping for consumers, with more people purchasing products online. These traditional retailers have essentially failed to keep up and innovate, consequently failing to make the transition from a brick-and-mortar stores to modern retail working in an omnichannel world.

Ecommerce refers to the online transactions conducted through the internet, usually through online platforms such as websites, web applications or standalone applications.

Shopify, one of the world’s leading ecommerce platforms, estimates that globally ecommerce sales will increase by 246.15% to $4.5 billion in 2021, up from $1.4 billion in 2014. This is quite clearly a magnificent opportunity to be taken advantage off, but at the same time the numbers are mindboggling and it is not clear what this means for our local market in the United Kingdom.

The UK is well positioned for the ecommerce revolution which is set to accelerate over the coming years, partly due to the government’s well though-out strategy and investment in internet infrastructure but also the UK consumer base’s willingness to try new technologies.

How large is the market in the UK?

According to the UK ecommerce market was worth around $86,450 million*. Next to this, the number of online buyers is also expected to increase significantly, increasing to 54.6 million in 2023*.  To put this into context; the UK is the third largest ecommerce market in the world being surpassed only by the USA and China. Not bad for small island of 66M people right?

What are the most purchased products?

The most purchased product categories were fashion and electronics and media.

What is the average sales value?

A positive signal demonstrative of the UK’s ecommerce growth is the fact that the value of online transactions are increasing each year. In 2017 the average revenue per user was $1,500, this is expected to increase to $2,000 in 2023.

How can you take advantage?

  • Plan before you start: If you don’t already have an online store, now is the perfect time to open one. To start, produce a retail plan and ecommerce strategy, outlining your value proposition, business objectives, products and services plan, financial plan (including projections) and online marketing and digital plan.
  • Selecting an appropriate sales platform: If you’re not sure which platform to choose for your ecommerce website read this article in which leading ecommerce platforms such as WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify are compared. The ecommerce platform to choose will largely depend on your business type (e.g. B2B or B2C) and other factors such as budget, product catalogue and revenue. Once you’ve selected your ecommerce platforms it is best practice to work with a developer or a digital agency to create a website (or other platforms) from where your customers can buy your products and services and generally engage with you.
  • Investing in Search Engine Optimisation: It is also beneficial to work with a SEO agency to ensure your website is fully optimised for key terms your customers are likely to search on. Search engine optimising is key to being successful as an online retailer and not investing in this will most likely lead to failure to attract the desired website traffic or grow your business.
  • Create original content: Depending on the market that you’re in online buyers will be expecting more than just the products that you’re selling. Some might benefit from styling advice, suggested products or product reviews. Creating original content which adds value for your customers will allow you to keep them engaged (and coming back to the website).

Why not have a look at some of the UK’s innovative ecommerce retailers for some inspiration:





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