The online retail sector has come a long way since it first emerged during the early 1990s. In the UK alone, consumers spent £60.43 billion pounds online in 2016, a figure which demonstrates the enormous contribution the sector brings to the retail industry as a whole. We have become a nation of avid e-shoppers – with 72% of Brits now shopping online on a regular basis, considerably higher than the European average of 52%.
This is a trend looks set to continue as Britons are forecast to spend 38% more per head online than our European counterparts this year, totalling £67.38 billion. In the UK, it’s anticipated that online spending will account for 17.8% of total retail trade during 2017 – growth of 11.5% year-on-year.
Without a doubt, ecommerce expansion in recent years has been spearheaded by the rise in popularity of mobile device; fuelled by the emergence of the iPhone (2007), iPad (2010), Samsung Galaxy Tab (2011), and the widespread rollout and adoption of 3G and 4G technology. These developments have enabled consumers to browse and shop online via their smartphone or tablet at any time, from pretty much anywhere. As a result, retailers today find themselves operating in a world of tech-savvy consumers, who expect their buying experience to be seamless across mobile, web and in-store.
We recently partnered with the Centre for Retail Research to publish a report investigating the proliferation of mobile usage across Europe. The report found that smartphone usage in the UK outstrips the European average, with almost 76% of the population in possession of a device, far greater than the average on the continent of 63.7%. This trend is also reflected in the predicted rise of mobile spending in 2017 – which is set to hit £27 billion in the UK this year. The average Brit now spends £1,428 each year on mobile devices, compared to the European average of £1,003 per person. This reveals the huge advancement of mobile as a retail channel in the UK, which now represents the fastest-growing area within the entire retail industry.