A fifth (20 per cent) of Brits now buy more items online than they do in store, according to the latest E-Commerce Index from Tokyo based online marketplace Rakuten.
The study, which quizzed over 5000 people, suggests that global e-commerce sales are being driven by consumer demand for clothing and accessories, with two-thirds (66 per cent) of Brits now buying clothes online and one-in-four (26 per cent) recommending items to friends and family via social media.
In the UK the top three categories are clothing and accessories, CDs and DVDs (including digital downloads and streaming), and books and magazines, while large appliances are least likely to be bought online. Sales of large appliances, while growing remain low in many countries worldwide, suggesting that consumers still like to get a feel for big ticket items in person, before pulling out the credit card.
David Rimmer, Trading Director at Rakuten’s Play.com, said: “The research clearly highlights that the fashion industry is well ahead of the curve when it comes to engaging the online shopping community. That’s no small feat for an industry where the importance of “fit” would seem like a natural obstacle to online sales.”
The top reason for shopping online in the UK is that items are easier to find, while ease of payment and the ability to ask shop assistants for help is also highly valued. This suggests that online retailers would benefit from offering a wider selection of payment methods and giving shoppers access to ‘virtual’ assistants on the web.
Earlier this year, Swedish online fitting company Virtusize signed a deal with Asos.com to help visually illustrate the size and fit of clothing. The company claims it reduces returns, and with 40,000 different garments now under the Virtusize banner, it appears a gap in the market may have been filled.
With Pintrest now the third most popular social network in the world, much has been made of its ability to connect with shoppers and to convert interest into sales. According to Shopify, the number of orders generated from Pins has quadrupled in the last six months and the average shopper now spends $80 on Pintrest- twice as much as on Facebook. In many countries, shoppers are now routinely sharing products that they like on social sites, such as Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
With mobile shopping expected to account for $119 billion of all online sales globally by 2015, mobile and tablet shopping is continuing to gather momentum.