The United Kingdom, also known as the UK, is composed of four European countries – England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland – and features a rich and lengthy history. With a combined population of approximately 63 million people, it boasts only the twenty-third largest population of any country in the world, smaller than developing countries such as Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Iran.
Despite not having a large population like the United States and China, the UK economy is critical to the success of not only Europe but the world as a whole. As online shopping continues its growth worldwide, what does this mean for the future of UK eCommerce and how does the UK compare to other countries?
- Continued growth is expected for UK eCommerce, but growth may slow to single digits –The UK eCommerce industry is expected to grow by a double-digit percentage in 2013 and 2014 but growth is predicted to slow and reach single-digit percentages by 2015.
- Despite not having a large population compared to other global leaders, the UK continues to be a leader in eCommerce transactions – Recent research from eMarketer shows that despite its population, the UK ranks third in the world in business-to-consumer online sales with approximately $125 billion in online sales last year and almost $142 million in online sales forecasted in 2013.
- UK online shoppers spend more online than any other country in the world – UK online shoppers are only rivaled by Australia in their online spending per person, which is a major reason why the UK is a major focus for many online retailers. The average UK online shopper spends approximately $1,000 per year more than the average online shopper from the United States.
Overall, the UK eCommerce industry is quite unique compared to other major eCommerce countries such as the United States and China. The U.S. and China continue to post large eCommerce revenues by leveraging their large populations, relying on consumers to utilize eCommerce as only a component of their economic retail strategy. Online retail sales in the UK have recently surpassed 10% of all retail sales several times in the past year while online retail sales in the U.S. have continued to stay around 5% of all retail sales.
This difference could indicate that in the UK a focus on customer retention tactics may be critical for online retailers moving forward, including re-targeting e-mails and display ads to social giveaways and on-site personalization features. With a smaller customer pool to select from in the UK, keeping current customers happy and nurturing their repeat business will likely be more important than acquiring new customers. This is primarily because the cost associated with acquiring new customers in the UK is quite high and will likely continue to remain high in the future.
In conclusion, the future of the UK eCommerce industry looks bright as the countries continue to be a major pillar of eCommerce in Europe. As growth may slow in the coming years, understanding and meeting the needs of customers with a “customer-first” approach could be the key to managing a successful online business in the country.