Robert Kneschke - Fotolia

E-commerce steams ahead in the UK with more online orders than the rest of the EU

Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal 79% of people in the UK ordered online in 2014

The UK had the highest percentage of individuals in the European Union (EU) purchasing online in 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

A comparison of information from Eurostat, which collects data from across the EU, revealed that 79% of the UK population ordered goods online in 2014, with Denmark coming a close second at 78% and Norway following at 77%.

Falling behind the rest of the EU was Romania, where just 10% of people ordered online, and Italy, where the figure is 22%.

The number of UK citizens using electronic means to order goods has increased significantly over the past 10 years, rising from 44% in 2005.

But consumers are not the only ones benefitting from online ordering, as e-commerce accounted for 20% of UK turnover in 2013. “E-commerce has become an important source of revenue for businesses in the UK,” stated the ONS report.

“This could be due in part to a number of factors, such as UK government initiatives to promote e-commerce and the 'digital agenda', alongside potential growth in other areas of the economy in the countries overtaken by Britain, resulting in the percentage of turnover accounted for specifically by e-commerce falling.”

Much can stand in the way of businesses attempting to sell goods online. Some 23% of UK businsesses in 2012 stated that their website sales were affected because goods and services were not suitable for consumers.

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“There are a number of obstacles that can limit a business from selling via a website – the most notable across all EU member states is that the goods and services are not suitable,” said the ONS report.

Payment is also considered a problem, with 14% of UK businsesses citing it as an obstacle for e-commerce transactions.

One in 10 UK businesses pointed the finger at IT security and data protection as a barrier to e-commerce, while 9% of UK firms blamed legal frameworks.

The ONS stats also highlighted the need to hire IT employees to cope with the growing technology demand as a result of increasingly digital online businesses.

Almost a quarter of UK businesses were employing IT specialists in 2013, which was above the EU average of 20%. But Ireland stormed ahead with 28% of businesses employing specialists in the IT area.

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