UK online sales to break £10bn barrier in 2003

Online sales in the UK will reach £10.4bn this year, a 46% rise on 2002, Forrester Research has predicted.

Online sales in the UK will reach £10.4bn this year, a 46% rise on 2002, Forrester Research has predicted.

The figures will come as a boost to online retailers ahead of today’s “24x7 day”, the UK’s first industry-backed internet shopping day, which aims to convince the 18 million people who have not bought goods over the net to shop online.

Online retailers need to design sites to serve multiple types of user and use multichannel marketing to smooth the path of online shoppers, said Rebecca Jennings, senior analyst at Forrester.

"Online retailers in the UK are doing all they can to persuade wired Brits to spend money across the net - the 24x7 Day organised by the IMRG being a prime example," she said.

"Today, 65% of online adults have bought and paid for a product or service online, and UK net shoppers spent an average of £237 online in the past three months.”

To ensure they are part of this growth, Forrester said that UK online retailers must convince consumers to buy with “hand-holding”; use cross-promotions and free delivery to drive up spending; and use site design to service both online novices and experienced users.

"Net newbies and old hands differ in their attitudes, demographics and product interest,” Jennings said.

“To get the attention and cash of both groups, online retailers' sites must offer a variety of routes to the same target, with both simplicity and more sophisticated functionality."

Retailers should learn from US experience and factor in cross-channel sales effects.

"US retailers have driven continued online growth in the face of economic uncertainty by using price promotions to attract new buyers, expanding product categories to interest mainstream users, and embracing multichannel marketing to boost awareness,” Jennings said.

 “Online retailers must start by educating store managers that the web is complementary, not cannibalistic, to their business, and by prominently displaying their site's URL both in store and on packaging.”

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