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UK: more than 80 percent of consumers buy online

Thursday 16 March 2017 | 02:20 PM CET

Approximately 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online in the last 12 months, and the UK is second only to Norway for making ecommerce purchases in Europe.

China and the US are the biggest online buyers in the world. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, online sales increased by 21.3% during 2016 and should reach 30% by 2017’s second half. Consumers are expected to place a greater reliance on mobile for buying and to see a growing demand for mobile apps and new buying technology in the later part of 2017. 

The most common purchases made online are for electronics and digital media, including video games, music downloads, e-books, computers and phones. The next sector is the fashion industry, with clothes and footwear accounting for almost one-third of online purchases. 48% of people buy their groceries online, and 11% do all of their food shopping through an internet device. On mobile phones, however, it is still app spending – purchases to download content or in-app spending for additional features – which overtakes retail purchases as the main choice.

Other important online retail sectors are: transport and travel services, wellness and beauty, cars, vans and bikes, stationery and work supplies. Product reviews are crucial for brands who want to make an impact on their audience. 68% of women consult product reviews before making a purchase, while 56% will look at social media pages or ask contacts on social networks for advice. The same study also revealed the top influencing factors when relying on a review: review quality and overall content, star rating or mark, quality of attached photographs, time and date of review.

If buyers make a purchase decision, reviews still come second to product quality and to the price of the item. Value is still very important to consumers. According to a VoucherBin study, 81% of consumers have used a voucher code to make an online purchase in the past 12 months. Almost three-quarters of respondents have used vouchers to buy takeaway food online, while 47% have made use of a discount code for clothing and footwear purchases.

Mobile buying will continue to increase in 2017, according to industry analysts. The tipping point for mobile was reached in the Q1 of 2016 and currently accounts for just over half of all online purchases. Studies show that by 2018, 18% of all retail sales will take place online and by 2040, it is thought 95% of purchases will be facilitated by ecommerce.

When the Christmas sales figures landed in January, mobile sales accounted for 42.3% of all purchases made – creating a value to the retail economy of 8.8 billion pounds (USD 10.7 billion). An Adobe study found that for every GBP 10 spent online during the holiday season, GBP 4.10 came from mobile purchases. By Christmas of 2017, economic analysts are predicting the balance will tip and mobile will account for over half of holiday spending.

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