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Steep rise in sales recorded at online-only retailers

13 March 2018 - 10:24 by Simon Crisp

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A study from RPC published last week reveals that the biggest operators in the world of safe shopping online were able to make £8.4 billion between August of 2016 and the end of July in 2017.

The Independent reports that this represents a 23 per cent annual increase in spending, although it is mostly the leading lights of pure play e-commerce that are feeling the benefits.

Analysts cited the likes of Ocado and ASOS as being influential in this arena and benefitting from steep growth in sales activity. Meanwhile, retailers which also have a bricks and mortar presence are finding it much harder to gain traction.

The study also looked at the impact being made on consumer habits by the increasing availability of artificial intelligence-enhanced features on sites that offer safe shopping online.

Chat bots are increasingly common, allowing customers to get their questions answered quickly while keeping costs down for retailers. Furthermore, the Echo range of speakers from Amazon are making automated responses and voice-based searches the norm.

Even the distribution side of e-commerce is being streamlined thanks to AI, in combination with robotics. This means that from product picking to delivery, the process is more efficient than ever.

For shoppers this should mean fewer delays and less hassle when they buy online. But, in reality, there are still plenty of things that can go wrong and completely foolproof systems have yet to be developed.

The impending arrival of autonomous delivery vehicles, from wheeled robots to airborne drones, will create even more shake-ups in the marketplace. And if these figures are accurate, it will be retailers that operate solely in the online sphere that will benefit, not those that remain on the high street or at out of town shopping centres.