E-commerce in the UK – What Does It Look Like?

E-commerce in the UK – What Does It Look Like?

Despite leaving the European Union, Great Britain still remains one of the most prominent directions of an expansion of foreign online stores. This market is renowned for its huge potential and many nations enjoy trust there. It’s also the largest e-commerce retail market in Europe and the third one in the world. So what does the e-commerce sector in the UK look like today? Let’s check it out.

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E-commerce in Great Britain – what to remember about the users?

According to the report by the Chamber of Digital Commerce, almost 96% of the UK population (68 million) use the Internet and 66% of persons are active social media users. 78.6% of people in all age groups perceive everyday use of the Internet as a typical, casual routine. The average Briton spends 5.5 hours a day online, which includes 102 minutes on social media platforms.

What devices are frequently used by the British?

48% of the British access content online only on mobile devices: 50% prefer Android and 50% choose iOS. This piece of information is incredibly important when it comes to SEO in the UK as the relevance of desktop devices is constantly decreasing – in 2019 it was used by 10% of people less than the year before.

28% of UK Internet users benefit from voice search at least once a month. Therefore, ASOS, a significant player on the market, introduced voice shopping to its website and mobile app already in 2018.

When it comes to percentage classification, according to the 2020 Hootsuite report, UK Internet users choose the following devices:

  • Smartphones (91%)
  • Laptops & desktops (83%)
  • Tablets (57%)
  • Game consoles (39%)
  • Smart TVs (28%)
  • Smartwatches (20%)
  • VR and AR devices (4.4%)

Content ideal for the British

Apart from traditional blog posts and quality product descriptions that attract organic traffic to your website and support SEO, remember that UK residents appreciate video content (85%),  radio stations (36%), podcasts (28%), and vlogs (28%). Complementing such content with your website links can generate more page impressions which ultimately translate into better conversion.

The most popular UK social media platforms

If you wish to support SEO by active traffic acquisition from social media and messengers, put an emphasis on organic content and PPC on channels such as:

  • YouTube (78%)
  • Facebook (73%)
  • WhatsApp (62%)
  • Messenger (58%)
  • Instagram (49%)
  • Twitter (45%)
  • LinkedIn (28%)
  • Pinterest and Snapchat (25% each)

E-commerce in the UK – key facts

79 billion dollars – that’s the total turnover of the UK e-commerce sector in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated the digital transformation of commerce. Major suppliers, like Net-a-Porter, one of the leaders of the clothing industry, already provide same-day deliveries. Although entering the British e-commerce market isn’t a piece of cake, the game is definitely worth the candle. Online sales are expected to constitute more than 25% of all retail sales by 2024, and up to 50% by 2028 (according to The Guardian).

88% of the British bought something online at least once in 2019 and the percentage will be even higher for 2020. As many as 63% of the residents use mobile apps for online shopping. The mobile channel is becoming more and more powerful, even though the majority of purchasing decisions are still made on desktop devices, not mobile ones (54% vs. 38%). The average Briton spends online about 1326 USD a year.

What items are frequently bought online by the British?

When it comes to UK e-commerce, Internet users spend most of their money on fashion (30% of the total turnover). “DIY, hobbies and toys” (19%) and “electronics & media” (19%) share the second position in the ranking. Online shopping related to the beauty and food industry is advocated by 17% of the responders, while home accessories and furniture are bought online by 15% of people.

By 2024, online grocery trading is expected to account for 11.3% of all grocery sales in the UK, so it’s certainly a rapidly developing sector of local e-commerce.
uk e-commerce market insights

How do the British access information about new e-commerce brands?

Most of them, which means as many as 41% searches for information about new brands using search engines like Google (86.59%), Bing (9.96%), or Yahoo (1.87%).

Other precious channels for introducing British customers to a new brand or product include:

  • TV ads (36%),
  • Recommendations, testimonials, social proof (35%),
  • Online stores (33%),
  • Landing pages and product pages (21%),
  • Social media ads (19%),
  • Website ads (18%),
  • Price comparison services like idealo.co.uk (17%)

Payment methods in the UK e-commerce market

The good news is that online payments are the king in the UK. 56% of shoppers pay for their online purchases by credit card. 40% use PayPal – this is the group that most often shops at foreign online stores. 25% benefit from e-wallets (e.g. Apple Pay or Google Pay), while 8% still use traditional bank transfers and 7% prefer to pay in cash.

Formalities in the British e-commerce sector since 2021

It’s important to keep in mind that Brexit involves changes in law regulations concerning international collaboration and online product sales to the UK. Before entering the British market, find out how to account and book sales or plan shipment to the UK.

10 stores that enjoy popularity in Great Britain

What platforms and online stores are eagerly chosen by British Internet users? Whose footsteps should you follow? Below you can find a list of the most popular UK e-shops:

  1. Amazon.co.uk
  2. Ebay.co.uk
  3. Asos.com (UK’s largest fashion e-commerce store which generates 25% of its turnover through… sales – apparently the British also enjoy special offers)
  4. Argos.co.uk (a chain of 800 traditional stores and a large online store with electronics, fashion and children’s products)
  5. Asda.com (a chain of 632 traditional stores and an e-commerce tycoon owned by the American company – Walmart)
  6. Tesco.com (with a turnover of £2 billion a year)
  7. MarksAndSpencer.com (fashion)
  8. JohnLewis.com (electronics, fashion and children’s goods)
  9. Currys.co.uk (electronics)
  10. Debenhams.com (clothing, home accessories, furniture)

However, you don’t need to be afraid – these ten shops don’t have a monopoly on British e-commerce. According to various data, between 40% and 58% of UK residents enjoy shopping online at international stores.

E-commerce in the UK – a few words in conclusion

Proper understanding of the character of the UK e-commerce market, compliance with all the regulations, and constant monitoring of the shopping habits of local customers should be enough to ensure the success and prosperity of your business and online store entering the UK market. Maybe now is the perfect time to go international and attract buyers from other countries? The choice is up to you.

P.S. As you already know, up to 41% of UK customers use search engines to search for selected products. If you want to reach them to gain extra conversions from this part of the world, benefit from international SEO to ensure that your online store is ranked in top positions in the search results.

We’ll be more than happy to help you reach the greatest objectives – contact us to see how to do it and how to become a real tycoon among the UK e-entrepreneurs!

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Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

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