The UK is the capital of European e-commerce, with 80% of Britons making a purchase online in the last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Of course, there are bigger markets than the UK, but per capita we have embraced e-commerce to a greater extent than any other European nation. That means any company that does not have a working e-commerce model is already missing out on potential revenue.
Many companies are put off entering the e-commerce arena because of concerns about warehousing and storage, as well as pick and pack, order fulfilment and other problems that would take significant infrastructure and investment to overcome. Simply outsourcing the whole operation to a third party might not have been considered, but it is often the most cost and time effective route to a functioning e-commerce model that can help bring in additional revenue and ‘buy time’ while the company analyses its available options for the future.
Aside from the UK, other European nations that have embraced e-commerce include Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany. All of these countries have e-commerce engagement rates of more than 70% of the adult population.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, less developed nations, including Bulgaria and Romania, have some of the lowest e-commerce take-up rates with just 17% and 10% respectively. This could in part be due to a lack of international retailers and payment providers serving these countries until recently, as well as restrictions on internet access and even a lack of credit and debit cards among the general population. Potentially, these countries could become lucrative growth markets once these obstacles are overcome.
In the UK, the ONS estimates there was a 66% growth in e-commerce between 2008 and 2013, which suggests that there is far more to come in terms of online sales in this country. It noted that offline and online retail worlds are finding new ways to co-exist, too, including collection and packaging hubs, and traditional shops effectively becoming order fulfilment delivery hubs, which has become a lucrative additional source of income for the likes of Argos.