For the first time in five years, annual research from Zendor GSI Commerce, the Manchester-based e-commerce solutions provider, reveals the number of UK fashion and footwear retailers with transactional websites has exceeded those without.

In 2007, of the 130 top UK retailers monitored by Zendor GSI Commerce since 2003, 55% of those online were found to be transactional. There has been more than a 40% boost in the figures for two years running (there was a previous increase from 27% in 2005 to 39% in 2006).

In previous years, the minority have traded online but with a push from big name retailers, including key players in the value and upmarket sectors, the fashion and footwear market has been flooded with new and improved offerings.

The 45% of those fashion and footwear retailers with an online presence that remain non-transactional and the 11% of the top 130 retailers that do not even have a basic online presence (the same as reported for 2006) need to assess their position to become part of the e-commerce movement. According to Verdict Research, the online fashion and footwear market is expected to triple by 2011, from £1.2bn in 2006 to £3.6bn.

Although relatively undeveloped compared to other online markets, for example electricals and food, fashion and footwear online sales are now more than feasible. Broadband technology enables solutions such as applications for multiple product views and video for fashion previews, which more than make up for the tangible nature of apparel and shoes.

Nick Allen, Zendor GSI Commerce’s Chief Executive, says “We first saw increased activity in the fashion and footwear market in late 2006 and we are pleased to see this behaviour has continued because we believe this online sector is one to watch and one to be part of. There is a business model suitable and sustainable for all fashion and footwear retailers, regardless of price points and product.”

Published on: 12:00AM on 21st April 2008