Friday 27 May 2016

Expected internet shopping surge is an opportunity for retailers

Published 26/09/2014 | 02:30

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Yesterday was 'Mega Monday' -- the busiest online shopping day due to people ordering in time to get delivery before Christmas. Photo: Thinkstock

Online shopping deliveries in the UK are set to surge by more than a third over the next four years by 2018, new research has found.

Clothing and footwear are set to make up the bulk of the deliveries, according to a report compiled by Barclays.

The banking giant said there are likely to be similar trends in Ireland.

Head of Retail & Wholesale for Barclays, Richard Lowe, who was in Dublin this week, said that not only is the online market growing, it is also having to evolve more radically than before.

"Driven by the increasing use of tablet and mobile devices, almost seven in 10 consumers say they are looking for more innovative and rapid delivery options such as Sunday delivery," he said.

"Although they seek more flexibility in delivery options, consumers are still very conscious of keeping prices low, with cost influencing consumers preference more than any other factor including quality of service."

In the UK last year, products ordered online generated about one billion deliveries. By 2018, that's expected to increase to 1.35bn.

Online sales in Ireland reached €4.6bn in 2013 and are forecast to reach €5.5bn this year, whilst online sales in Europe were worth €400bn in 2013 and are set to grow 20pc in 2014, according to a report from Retail Excellence Ireland.

There was massive growth in the amount of retailers online in 2013, at an estimated 75pc vs 50pc in 2012. The retail lobby group said Ireland is one of the fastest growing eCommerce markets in Europe.

But Dublin Chamber of Commerce last year pointed out that only 23pc of Irish SMEs are trading online, with much of the online trading here going to non-Irish businesses.

It said that international research shows that SMEs who adopt online trading grow twice as fast and export twice as much as their offline competitors.

Ireland's 'digital champion' Lord David Putnam has reportedly recently expressed frustration at the progress of the National Digital Strategy among SMEs.

The Barclay's report, therefore, is an interesting snapshot of the online shopping trends of our nearest neighbour, especially if, as the bank predicts, similar trends develop here. It also highlights the need for retailers here to ensure they have an online presence.

According to the Barclay's study, books are going to be overtaken by food as the product with the third highest volume of online deliveries in 2018. Electricals are forecast to be the highest growth sector for deliveries, with the number of packages expected to increase by 61pc.

"With the online sales momentum set to continue, our research shows that it is more important than ever for retailers to reassess their online strategy and boost investment in the online fulfilment process to maximise the benefits of this growing market place," Mr Lowe added.

Irish Independent

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