Ecommerce market share
The UK is the third biggest ecommerce market in the world, with China and the US in first and second place. The business-to-consumer ecommerce turnover in the United Kingdom was worth €175 billion in 2018. It is predicted that the ecommerce turnover will reach over €200 billion at the end of 2019. If this turns out to be the case, this would mean an increase of 14.6% compared to last year. This would also mean that 7.94% of the UK’s gross domestic product would be made up by ecommerce sales.
It is also predicted that 96% of the British population will use the internet this year. This is a small increase compared to previous years, when the share of the British population using the internet was 95%. Just like other years, 87% of UK internet users are expected to shop online in 2019. These online shoppers spent € 3254 per person last year and it is predicted that this amount will increase to € 3620.
By 2028, ecommerce in the UK will account for 53% of the country’s total retail sales. For comparison: currently, this accounts for 19,2%. By 2028, about half of the adult population in the UK will consist of Generation Z and Millennials, which will greatly boost the growth of online shopping. In addition, it is predicted that there will be significantly fewer physical stores in 2028, stimulating online growth and merging physical and online retail channels.
Biggest online retailers and markets
The UK is dominated by great American online retailers, together with some strong local etailers. That the UK ecommerce market is dominated by American platforms can mainly be explained by the large home market size of American online retailers and the early development of these companies in the UK. With the exception of Tesco, a British retailer, the largest online stores in the UK are American, namely Amazon and eBay. Other big online retailers are Asos, Argos, Play.com, Next and John Lewis4.
UK consumers do not only buy their products from UK online retailers. On the contrary: consumers in the UK shop a lot at foreign online stores and do this more often than consumers in most Western countries. 73% of the products purchased online come from domestic online stores. Of the remaining 27%, 16% of the goods purchased online are purchased outside the EU and 11% are ordered from an EU country. The foreign markets from which UK consumers order most products online from are the United States, Germany and France. The United States accounts for over 13% of total UK exports. From the United States, UK online shoppers mainly order fashion-related items, from Germany electronics, from France, UK online shoppers often order perfumes and cosmetics.
Consumer behaviour and preferences
When selling products to Brits, it is important that their standards, expectations and preferences are taken into account. It is in the first place important to know what products are popular with British online consumers. When the Brit shops online, he mainly buys fashion and sporting items. This is followed by travel items, household items, movies & music and books & magazines.
In addition to offering the right products, it is also important that British online shoppers can pay with the method they prefer to use. The most popular payment methods among British online shoppers is PayPal (40%), followed by credit card (24%) and prepaid cards (17%).
If British consumers have ordered their desired products, they would prefer to have them delivered to their home, followed by delivery to a mailbox or multi-occupancy mailbox by the mail carrier and delivery to their workplace. When looking at innovative delivery methods such as in-car delivery, in-home delivery and delivery to an unmanned safe. British online-shoppers have the most confidence in delivery to an unmanned safe, followed by in-car and in-home delivery.
UK online shoppers are seen as “serial returners” who send back a lot of items. The total worth of these items was last year around €8.7 billion. This is a problem for etailers who want to sell their products in the UK, as this causes additional costs. Fashion retailers are among the worst hit, with 37% reporting increased levels of returns. Regarding the return of products, it is important that British online shoppers have a choice between different methods that they can use for this. UK customer’s preferences for the method of returns is varied, but if the Brit has to choose, then he prefers to return the package at the post office (73%). This is followed by courier collection (62%), the retail store (61%), a collection point (47% and a locker (28%). For etailers who want to sell in the UK, it is important that the return process is optimized, because it appears that a large proportion of UK online shoppers choose to never shop with a brand again when they have had a negative returns experience. This mainly applies to young customers between the ages of 18 and 25 (60%) and 26 to 35 (57%).