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Study analyses UK e-commerce trends

23 July 2010 - 15:29 by Graham Miller

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A new report into the state of online shopping in the UK and the US has found that 34 per cent of consumers would rather shop online than at high street outlets.

Although many respondents said that they still prefer the high street over any other method, the results indicate that e-commerce has a significant grasp on the retail market in the UK.

The survey was authored by Econsultancy and it explored the various incentives which would persuade consumers to shop online instead of via other means. Around 80 per cent of respondents from both nations said that free postage was a good reason to shop with any online retailer and this is perhaps why it is a feature that is present on most of the largest e-commerce sites, including Amazon and Play.com.

UK consumers were more readily swayed by pricing guarantees from online retailers, with 72 per cent wooed by this online offer as opposed to 64 per cent in the US. Being able to match or better the prices on a rival site is clearly a good way for sites to win business.

The UK consumer base showed its trust in online retail to be greater than its US counterpart by backing the use of alternative payment methods, such as PayPal, to ensure safe shopping online that does not rely on payment card transactions.

59 per cent of UK consumers said that a ratings system to rank products was important in online retail, whilst 57 per cent approved of user reviews being linked to products for a second opinion.

Interestingly, the concerns surrounding online retailers voiced by respondents mostly related to poor search tools and sluggish page load speeds, with few expressing doubts about their favourite retailer's ability to provide an environment for safe shopping online.