Which simply highlights the fact that often it’s the story behind the headline that is most significant. One thing that the latest BRC/KPMG figures are clear about is that internet, mail-order and phone sales in non-food were 15.9 per cent higher than a year ago, the same as in March and in-line with previous months.
Another report, this time for IMRG by The British Population Survey, shows that the majority of the British population aged over 15 now shop online. The 50 per cent benchmark was achieved for the first time in February 2010 (50.6 per cent), while March saw further growth in the number of online shoppers to 51 per cent.
BPS and IMRG are introducing “The e-Shopper Index” to track the percentage of the UK adults who shop online. It shows that an additional 3.7 million people have become online shoppers during the past two years alone.
Not only that, the latest e-Customer Service Index survey conducted by IMRG and eDigitalResearch reveals that people are embracing e-commerce, not just for convenience, but because it is seen as a more environmentally-friendly way to shop. It showed that more than a third of people prefer to shop online, with three quarters citing reduced pollution as a reason.
This is all jolly good, but the whole edifice collapses if the delivery process leaves the customer dissatisfied. So it is no wonder that online retailers are refining their delivery options with lower standard charges offset by increases for premium service. Multi-channel logistics operator iForce has been monitoring the market and has found that eight per cent more retailers now offer Saturday and named-day options than just six months ago. Average standard delivery charge has been reduced by nine per cent to £3.52, but next-day charges have increased by nine per cent to £6.48. In addition, more online retailers are using free delivery as an incentive.
The time is long gone when online sales were just an add-on to the real business, and there is no doubt that the focus on delivery service and price is going to become ever more intense.