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Online shopping turns 20 – what have we learned?


With online shopping set to break through the £100bn mark in 2014 and three quarters of British consumers buying products online, e-tail has gone from nowhere to the mainstream in 20 years.

Many have blamed the internet for the decline of the British high street but there are signs that retailers are successfully responding to the threat of e-commerce by using their stores as hubs to collect products from. From what started with the single purchase of a Sting’s album Ten Summoners’ Tales, for $12.48 has now grown into tens of millions of products across the world. James Roper, chairman of trade association IMRG says online shopping has transformed consumer expectations of range, convenience and value. “With smart technology you can add value in so many ways - saving people time, give them certainty of product availability, customers reviews, many many other things, too.”

Research from Shop Direct found 95 per cent of us shop online with one on four doing so once a week. Laptops and PCs are still the principal shopping device but mobile devices are catching up with one in five now shopping on a tablet and one in ten via their mobile.

As online retail grows, traditional retail adapts. Retailers with a sprawling store estate such as Argos and Wal-Mart are aiming for a strong footing in the e-commerce market and are taking on Amazon with their unique blend of online shopping and the physical store environment.

Top five things we buy online:

Books 64 per cent

Fashion/clothing/accessories 60 per cent

Music/entertainment 56 per cent

Electronics 54 per cent

Holidays and Travel 50 per cent

Average person first shopped online in 2005

Shop Direct’s report coincides with its launch of a UX lab in-house in Liverpool which aims to boost user experience.

Published on Tuesday 12 August by Editorial Assistant

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