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UK e-Commerce Sector In Good Shape

06 May 2010 - 12:03 by Simon Crisp

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Despite the ravages of the recent economic downturn, UK online retailers appear, on the whole, to have had a fairly good few years. A significant percentage of consumers have opted for safe shopping online, in many cases arguably as a result of the financial climate rather than despite it. Recent research by Kelkoo has found that last year, consumers' safe shopping online accounted for a total spend of £38 billion. It is believed that this year, net sales will hit the £42.7 billion mark.

This confirms that the UK e-commerce market is the largest in Europe, although countries such as Germany and France are not too far behind. Consumers in Germany are set to spend £34.8 billion online this year whilst the French are likely to spend around £28.9 billion. Euro zone countries in which consumers spend least online are currently Poland and Finland, spending £3 billion and £2.8 billion respectively.

As transaction volumes in the UK have increased, online retailers have had to adapt, facing greater competition and ever higher consumer expectations. As a result, it seems that online retailers are becoming ever better at providing great customer service. A recent poll by communications agency Likemind and researchers Vision Critical found that 48 per cent of UK consumers believe that customer service is actually better online than on the high street.

The survey also found that consumers really do care about the service levels provided by online retail sites, with two-thirds of those asked confirming that poor service would dissuade them from shopping with a given retailer.

Whilst there is no doubt considerable improvement yet to come in some quarters, the pure-play online retailers such as Amazon.co.uk scored highly in a ForeSee Results consumer poll in December 2009, with Amazon seeing a consumer satisfaction score of 83. Other significant sites including Play.com and eBay also scored highly, at 79 and 75 respectively.