UK Ecommerce Market Size

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

UK Ecommerce is an abbreviation of electronic commerce and embraces the buying and selling of products or services through electronic systems. The 1970’s and 1980’s saw explosive growth in the popularity of credit card, automated bank cash machines and telephone banking, but this pales into insignificance when contrasted with the growth of online ecommerce in recent times.

Online Growth in Context

In light of the current economic climate, many people wrongly assumed that the online sector would experience a commensurate slow-down. Whilst there is little doubt that the internet has had a significant effect over the last 18 months, the effect has not been quite as many had predicted. In fact, increased online competition, competitive offers, easy access to international markets and twenty four hour online shopping have all played a large part in the slow down of high street traffic. Many argue that the demise of some traditional “bricks and mortar” retailers has not in fact occurred as a pure consequence of changes in the wider economy but has simply been an inevitable result of the growth in UK ecommerce, with the wider economic changes simply hastening the inevitable.

Headline Statistics

Whatever your views on the subject, the figures are really quite staggering. In April 2000, estimated online expenditure in the UK was £87 million. By December of 2005, the figure had increased significantly to some £2.26 billion. It is currently estimated that by the end of 2009, the UK ecommerce market will hit £68.4 billion. On a larger scale, European business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales totalled 106 billion Euros in 2006 and are expected to reach some 323 billion Euros in 2011.

The Land Grab

Whilst few businesses are entirely immune from the effects of an economic slow-down, the figures above demonstrate the scale of the opportunity. With some very early indications that the slow-down may be “bottoming out”, now is the ideal time for businesses large and small to create or indeed significantly revamp their online presence. Pressure on marketing budgets has reduced expenditure on paid online advertising, in many cases diverting resources to the “land grab” that is currently occurring in unpaid or natural search. Many firms are diverting resources to their search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts in seeking long-term presence in the search engines, the return on investment figures for which can be literally incredible. Even if you have an existing web presence, it may fall a long way short of the requirements needed to thrive in the intense heat of SEO in 2009.

Some 65% of consumers are now believed to browse for product or retailer reputation before making a purchase, retailers will certainly need to ensure that they offer their customers the same level of service, if not greater, than that of a comparable in-store experience. Affiliate marketing, online reviews, blogs and social networking all make it particularly easy for the reputation of a retailer, good or bad, to be spread quickly on an international level. Wise firms are taking full advantage of social media optimisation (SMO) techniques to build brand reputation and awareness.

Further Thoughts on UK Ecommerce

Those starting out in ecommerce are also at an advantage in that the size and generally the location of the company is irrelevant to the consumer. If goods and services can be delivered to the agreed time scales, price and quality, consumer demand is there for the taking.

The thought of branching out into ecommerce may seem daunting for smaller businesses, particularly those that don’t have a track record in computer technology. One of the biggest myths is that a website will prove too costly to set up and maintain. A wise web design partner can steer you through the minefield and ensure that you achieve an effective yet cost-controlled online presence. Ecommerce allows your business to potentially operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with margins unparalleled in traditional channels.

In today’s climate it is not so much the case that businesses cannot afford to branch into ecommerce trading, but rather, they cannot afford not to.


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