Can you afford not to offer online shopping?

With Christmas just around the corner, retailers are working hard for our money. But it’s not just about the battle of the high street. Online retailers want a cut too.

In October 2017 the UK spent an average of £1.2 billion online per week, according to a recent ONS survey. Since October 2016, online shopping has grown by just under 11% and now accounts for nearly 17% of all retail sales in the UK.

Who’s getting it right?

The latest Total Retail Survey found that 91% of UK consumers now shop on Amazon. Now that’s an impressive stat.

In uncertain times, consumers are not only looking for a good price but for someone they can trust. Perhaps that’s why department stores have seen the biggest increase in online sales. Up 19.2% since October 2016. Then again, maybe it’s their easy to use website, great delivery service and returns policy.

What’s so great about online shopping?

If you ask someone why they shop online, they’ll probably say; convenience, price or choice. So, if a business is looking to offer online sales then it really needs to tick those boxes.

Convenience

Any time of the day or night, you can book your next holiday or order your weekly food shop, all from the comfort of your sofa. No more strict opening hours and queues at the checkout.

Price

Haven’t got time to visit four or five shops to make sure you’re getting the best deal? Don’t worry. Online shopping lets you check prices quickly. And you can find out if what you want is in stock. Some retailers even have special offers or products that you can only get online.

Choice

Retailers can’t always have everything they sell in their stores. But online, there’s no end to the number of items available. Perhaps too many if you’re a little on the indecisive side! And don’t forget those retailers who you wouldn’t find on the high street or in the shopping centre.

There are some disadvantages

If you’re buying clothing or soft furnishings you might want to try them on or feel the material first. And if you have a questionthen who can you ask? Some websites do have a 24-hour chat option but not all. Often, it’s simply a list of FAQs.

Cyber security issues can also put people off. For businesses with an online presence, making it safe for their customers to shop is vital. A breech of security can be very costly and a PR nightmare.

Is online shopping here to stay?

Most retail analysts believe that it’s not the end of bricks and mortar shops but that over time our shopping experience will change when we visit. They’ll have to offer us more.

But it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without online shopping now too. For most retailers, holding onto customers will mean offering them a great, seamless online service and a good price.

The UK digital audience spent an average of 83 hours online per person in March 2017. So, if you have a product to sell or service to offer, then give people the chance to buy or book online. If they’re already on their phone or laptop then they’re just a click away.

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