The Future May Be Bright, But Is The Future Definitely ‘Digital’?

Are you still a doubting Thomas when it comes to online marketing?

Has your business yet to be convinced about the benefits and advantages of trading over the internet? Well, maybe you should cast your eyes over the latest figures released by the British Retail Consortium. The Consortium which represents 80% of UK retailers, found that close to one in five non-food items was bought online in December.

The BRC survey found that online trading in general represented 18.6% of total non-food sales for the final month of 2013, an increase from 16.5% a year earlier. It also found that there was a 19.2 per cent overall growth in internet purchases in 2013 – the fastest increase in four years.

The BRC’s director general, Helen Dickinson, said the reason for the rapid growth in online retailing was partly down to retailers investing heavily in their websites and improving delivery times and partly due to the surge in the popularity and use of smartphones and tablets. She also highlighted multichannel offerings by some retailers as one of the key factors over the Christmas period:

“This Christmas we [saw] innovative retailers using click and collect and other approaches to make a virtue of both their website and their physical shops. And that’s something we see growing in importance.”

Unfortunately, not all businesses are getting swept along in the online wave. Many smaller businesses are failing to invest in their websites are unfortunately now counting the cost. In the opinion of Richard Lim, head of business information at the BRC, this problem will only get worse unless businesses address the problem.

Unfortunately ,there is no one-size-fits-all solution for online success. What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another:

“Retail is going through one of the most rapidly evolving phases in its history, but there’s no one ‘silver bullet’ for all business models to adopt. It’s clear that if a retailer is in the online game they need to learn to play it right,” claimed Mr Lim.

Hardeep Singh Garewal, from IT providers, ITC Infotech, highlights one area for improvement: “Large swathes of retailers’ [online] customers are unknown to them, in some cases, up to 85%.”

He believes many retailers simply do not know why their customers chose certain products, but it’s vital that they discover this as “retaining and selling to existing customers is far easier than attracting new ones”.

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