In recent years, a growing number of us have realised that we don’t have to do all our shopping on the high street, retail parks or in out-of-town supermarkets and shopping centres. As the internet has grown, so has ecommerce – online retail to you and me. For retail companies large and small, ecommerce has proved to be a useful source of revenue, but how useful?
High street woe
Although traditional forms of retail like selling in shops, offices and warehouses remain the most prominent source of income for many companies, the growth of the internet has played its part in the demise of many prominent high street brands. In the past few years, the likes of JJB Sports, Comet, Clinton Cards and Jessops have all fallen by the wayside.
Other companies including HMV and Blockbuster have closed dozens of branches around the UK, and have scaled down massively as a result. One likely reason why many high street chains have ceased to be is their failure to embrace ecommerce and make the most of it. Those retail firms who have made the most of their websites have managed to keep going or become even stronger.
Shopping from your sofa
Arguably the main driver of ecommerce growth is its convenience for the consumer. Today, convenience is at the heart of retail – home delivery from the store, assembly and the opening of small outlets in neighbourhood centres are all commonplace nowadays. Ecommerce is perhaps the most convenient thing of all for the consumer.
The reason for that is customers can order what they want at any time of day and, in some cases, decide when they want their items to be delivered. This makes shopping easier than it’s ever been, especially for those who are pressed for time and can’t even pay a visit to their local supermarket and do the weekly grocery shop.
Although ecommerce systems have become an integral part of any company’s retail strategy, online sales still account for a relatively small share of the market, although that is rapidly changing. According to the retail sales figures for May released by the Office for National Statistics:
- The average weekly online spend over the month was £582m, increasing by 10.3% compared to May 2012’s figures
- Online retail accounted for 9.7% of all retail spending excluding fuel
- 10% of online spending was in clothing, footwear and textile retailers
As expected, more was spent online in the non-store retailing sector than any other. Spending online now accounts 66.4% of total spending in the online sector, while food accounted for the lowest proportion of sales at just 3.4%.
All the above statistics suggest that going online is essential for any business, especially if they want to remain competitive for the foreseeable future. Without a comprehensive ecommerce system in place, then all firms risk being left behind, wondering whether they will be able to attract any new customers whatsoever while their rivals look forward to boosting their income.