eCommerce – the future of retail?
A tumbleweed rolls through a town centre. A shopping trolley lays on its side eerily by the dustbins. A light flicks off in the distance as another store closes its shutters for the winter.
Is the high street shop dead? Not yet, maybe, but it’s taken out a life insurance policy and signed over the mortgage to a subsidiary. It might not be soon, it might not be for a decade, but the high street shop is coming to terms with its mortality, and preparing for the inevitable.
According to eMarketer, in 2014 13% of all retail sales in the UK took place online. The following year that figure went up to 14.5%. This year it’s at almost 16%, and by 2019 it’s predicted that almost 20% of retail sales will be digital ones. Within a generation the majority of retail sales will be made in online shops, rather than physical ones.
Consumers are preferring to buy clothes from their sofas, rather than forcing themselves to endure a sweaty weekend shopping trip surrounded by herds of bargain hunters in the centre of town. The irony is, of course, that as more and more people choose to make their purchases in online shops, that town centres really aren’t as busy any more.
But, there are many more reasons why someone would choose an online shop over an in-store experience, and they mainly all come down to convenience.
One major plus point of online shopping is that it’s like a massive Walmart – everything you could possibly need is in one place. You don’t have to wander from shop to shop trying to find what you’re looking for at the best price, only to have to walk back to the first place you saw it in. All you have to do is click on a new tab in your internet browser, open a search engine and you can compare prices from sites all across the internet.
As well as prices you can compare ratings and reviews from other eConsumers. It’s like dragging a friend along to a shop to give you their opinion on an outfit, except there’s millions of them and they’re more honest because they don’t have to worry about offending you.
All of this helps you find exactly what you want, for the best price, whenever you want it. Online shops don’t have working hours, so you aren’t restricted by opening or closing times.
One benefit of purchasing from physical retail outlets is that more often than not, you can walk in to the store and walk out with the product you want. But, if you buy online you have to wait a few days for it to be delivered before you actually get your hands on it.
That being said, with next-day delivery becoming increasingly feasible, and Amazon trialling delivery drones that drop parcels (gently) on your doorstep within an hour, we’re not far off a world where it’s quicker to get a machine to drop a bookcase on your patio than to get in the car and drive to IKEA and back.
On top of the upwards trend in eCommerce, we are seeing an increase in the amount of retail sales coming from mobile devices. Studies show that 70% of people over 15 in the UK own a mobile device, and in 2014 mobile-commerce on smartphones and tablets accounted for 27.7% of eCommerce sales, increasing to 33.3% last year, and is predicted to rise to almost 45% by 2019.
That’s why it’s becoming more and more important for eCommerce websites to optimise for mobile browsers. Consumers have evolved from the high street, to the desktop, to the laptop, the tablet and the smartphone, so website designers and marketers are having to start to think about how their eCommerce websites look on smaller screens.
Interestingly, the average order value of purchases made on a tablet is three times higher than those made on smartphones, but mobile accounts for 80% of the browsing, whilst consumers prefer purchasing on tablets. A traditional analogy for this phenomenon would be that consumers once did the majority of their ‘browsing’ in product catalogues and magazines, before making the purchases in the brick-and-mortar stores on the high streets.
This is why it’s so important to have an effective eCommerce website that is mobile and tablet ready. The new eShop Builder from Fasthosts allows you to create a professional online shop complete with eCommerce website templates that automatically adapt to any device, making your online shop look great on mobile, tablet or desktop.
For more information about eShop Builder visit the Fasthosts website.