What Can We Learn From UK E-Commerce?
The UK is the most advanced e-commerce country in the world right now. In 2013, online retail generated a trade surplus of $720m for the UK economy. This is primarily due to the high online spending habits of Brits: $869 per capita. Brits also pay with debit and credit cards, and use smartphones, more than their European counterparts, making it a prime location for e-commerce sales.
The success has been led by the fashion sector, with brands such as Asos and Farfetch being some of the most searched brands internationally. What makes these, and other UK sites, so successful?
- They think globally from the onset. The UK has been a global hub for many years for various major companies. Many new brands have been able to apply this learning to their e-commerce infrastructures. Farfetch began their retail operations by shipping from five countries to the rest of the world. CEO Andrew Robb says “we strongly believe that providing a global product proposition with a localized, multichannel experience is the future.”
Asos is another great example of this. They have websites specifically targeting 9 different countries and ship to more than 237 countries from their central distribution center in the UK. They service customers from one spot, but localize their digital marketing to make it relevant to the particular audience.
- They are innovative. Retailers in the UK are adopting a connected retail model, merging the physical shopping experience with an online one. With online visits and sales from mobile devices up four times over last year, retailers are focusing on the channel to personalize the shopping experience for their consumers, whether they’re at home, on their commute or in the store.
- Their geography. Retailers in the UK are able to ship quite easily to the rest of Europe and the US. Over 95% of UK businesses on eBay are exporting around the world. The cross-border opportunities that sites like eBay present have led the company’s vice-president to declare the “death of distance.” International shipping is an absolute must-have for e-commerce success.
The global increase in internet access, coupled with a rise in consumer confidence, combine to provide the ideal market conditions for e-commerce. The success of UK retailers can partly be attributed to operating in the most advanced e-commerce market in the world, but also to the high levels of trust international customers have in UK brands and retailers. E-commerce brands around the world can take queues from these advanced UK models, and apply them to grow their own businesses exponentially.