The UK’s ecommerce market is expected to double in size by 2018

According to research compiled by OC&C Strategy Consultants, PayPal and Google, the world’s largest ecommerce markets – the UK included – will double in size by 2018 to £645bn.

Online retail in the UK, US, China and Germany, will double in size by 2018 and add£320bn to the ecommerce economy. 

As highlighted by the report, Britain is the most popular online overseas destination for German shoppers. However, the Chinese purchase products online from British retailers as frequently as domestic shoppers do.

This benefits the UK, the report suggested, as “Chinese and German shoppers are more valuable than their British counterparts”. They spend on average 2.7 and 1.7 times more in each transaction.

International shoppers cited choice of product (40 per cent), pricing and the quality of British goods (29 per cent) as reasons for choosing “Made in Britain”.

Anita Balchandani, head of retail at OC&C, said: “The study has shown that UK retailers are some of the world’s most popular and are in a strong position to seize more opportunities abroad. But at the moment, the majority are only doing the basics to adequately serve foreign markets.”

She noted that retailers that are going deeper are already reaping the rewards. For example, ASOS has adopted zonal pricing and invested in local warehouses to support returns in foreign markets. As a result, searches for ASOS from overseas have grown faster than other UK retailers. 

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British clothing retailer Boden has a warehouse in the US as well as accepts Paypal to support US growth, while in Germany it is open invoicing – “a feature that German consumers prize,” according to Balchandani.

Martijn Bertisen, sales director at Google UK, claimed that many consumers only experience the web through a smartphone. This is increasingly translating into mobile transactions and that a mobile-first or even mobile-only strategy is crucial in achieving international success in retail, he said. 

A UK Mobile “Path-to-Purchase Study” conducted by Nielsen found that UK consumers are amongst the most mobile. PayPal data has suggested that in fashion, for example, 59 per cent of online transactions are already being made via mobile in the UK, compared with 45 per cent and 24 per cent in the US and Germany respectively.

The research highlighted that British companies could be earning up to 60 per cent more by “going deeper” – this includes building trust with local consumers, responding to local payment preferences and putting in place the infrastructure to match local competitors on speed. 

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.


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