It seems the ecommerce market is still growing at a decent pace. Figures published in Royal Mail’s latest annual report estimate total parcel volume growth at approximately 4%.
The business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-originated (C2X) parcel segments are estimated to be growing at a slightly faster rate, between 4.5% and 5.5%.
In 2014, the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) put the value of the UK ecommerce sales at £104bn.
This is 14% greater than the value of sales the previous year, and more than double the 2009 value.
Online retail is accounting for an increasing proportion of total retail sales.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 11.2% of total retail sales were made online in 2014, compared to 10.4% in the previous year.
Consumers in the UK are also shopping more on mobile devices. 40% of online retail sales at the end of 2014 were through mobile devices.
Retail becomes more mobile
As many marketers already know, mobile has become an integral part of retail and digital commerce offerings.
Overall, use of mobile phones for retail activities was relatively stable between 2014 and 2015.
Around one in four mobile internet users (26%) said they used their mobile phone to purchase goods or services in the month, the same proportion who said that they had used their mobile phone to find the location of a store.
With 4G subscriptions increasing it could be expected that these trends accelerate and more consumers will become mobile shoppers.
While mobile payments at the Point Of Sale is relatively low, it could be expected to increase once Apple Pay gains widespread traction.
Factors affecting purchase decisions
One in 10 consumers consider that the operator that delivers their parcel is an important factor in choosing a retailer.
When asked to name the most important factors when choosing a retailer, over half of UK adults (56%) said that free delivery was an important factor.
Around half (49%) considered that quick and efficient deliveries were important and three in 10 that the offer of click-and-collect services was important.
Just over one in 10 (11%) UK adults considered that the provider used for delivery was an important factor, suggesting that consumers have little preference who provides their deliveries, as long as it does not add an additional cost to their purchase and it is quick and efficient.
A majority of consumers like to have notifications and/or tracking in place for their e-retail deliveries
Over six in 10 (63%) of adults said that they liked to have email confirmation at each stage of delivery when awaiting deliveries from online shopping, and a similar proportion (61%) said that they liked to be able to track their parcels online.
Features that provide more precise information about when items are likely to be delivered were cited by a significant majority of respondents.
Around four in 10 said they wanted greater certainty of the specific delivery time: 43% said that they would like to receive texts with the exact time of delivery and 39% said they liked to have one-hour time slots for delivery.
When it comes to delivery, almost seven out of 10 (68%) adults stated that delivery to the home was their preferred option.
For delivery options away from the home, click and collect was the preferred method. 14% said that this was their preferred option.
Preferences for other delivery methods (including parcel lockers, parcel shops and post offices) was low. None of these options were the preferred delivery point for more than 2% of respondents.
Amazon still leading the way for digital retail
In March 2015, 32.1m people visited Amazon on a desktop/laptop or mobile device, equivalent to two-thirds (68%) of the digital population. This was the largest digital audience among Ofcom’s comparator online retail services.
eBay was visited by six in 10 of the digital population (59% or 28.2m), the second highest total digital audience, followed by Argos with 14.1m (an active reach of 30%) in March 2015.
Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, was visited by 12.7m people i.e. 27% of the active digital audience.
The number of people accessing the comparator retailers via desktop and laptops was generally higher than those accessing these on mobile devices, although in March 2015 more people accessed Argos, Tesco and Asda on mobile devices than on desktops and laptop.
As with the other topics discussed in the Ofcom Market Report, mobile’s influence is becoming more important.
As the report points out, several of the UK’s biggest retailers saw a bigger digital audience on mobile than desktop/laptop earlier this year. Amazon’s audiences across devices are approaching parity also.
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