Today is the first day back at work for many after the long Christmas break but this didn’t appear to be a break from shopping and shopping online in particular.
December was a record breaking month for online shopping according to stats from Experian the global information services company, who said UK shoppers spent 44.3 million hours shopping online across Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Insight from Experian Hitwise, the online competitive intelligence tool, shows that Boxing Day 2013 was the biggest and busiest day ever for online retailers in the UK.
British internet users made 129 million visits to retail websites on Boxing Day 2013, a 15 per cent year-on-year increase, making 26 December the biggest online shopping day ever.
This is more good news for UK retailers who have had a difficult few years and supports all the predictions that retailers need to offer a seamless and offline experience for shoppers. Shoppers have not given up buying but they are more demanding and discerning – and much less likely to settle for the commonplace – as many high street chains discovered last year. The high street has to deal with high fixed costs and higher labour bills, which, for example, put HMV at a competitive disadvantage.
Two high street chains, John Lewis and Next have already announced their December sales figures and have bucked the high street trend. John Lewis’ online sales rose by 22.6% on the same period in 2012, and accounted for almost a third of its total sales over the period. But their sales in stores were also up, by 1.2%, as shoppers were tempted to buy additional items when they went to stores to pick up goods ordered online.
At least a third of shoppers coming into stores to “click and collect” bought something else while they were there. Next’s sales from their online Directory were up 21% in the last quarter of 2013 and they said that increased confidence in online deliveries meant that more customers continued to trade with NEXT Directory right up to the weekend before Christmas.
With this evidence its highly likely that many shops will increasingly become like hubs or depots where it is convenient for people to pick up their online orders and ‘click and collect’ is growing in use.’
When it comes to purchasing products online, customers have more choices than ever. This selection has forced customers to pay more attention to whom they are buying from and the experience they have when making an online purchase. As we’ve seen, the shopping experience has become more personal and social.
The companies who master this can distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack and make strides in the e-commerce marketplace.
So with 2013 safely behind us what’s next for ecommerce ? Quite a few predictions I have seen are for big data solutions for all sizes of business and analytics of data as the amount of data increases. Engines that can automatically sift through the growing mass of data, identify issues or opportunities, and even take automated action to capitalize on those findings will be a necessity.