Overseas searches for UK retailers up one fifth in Q4 2016

An increasing number of overseas consumers searched for UK retailers in the last three months of 2016, according to the latest BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor.

The Monitor for the fourth quarter of 2016 found that the volume of overseas customers making online searches for UK retail brands was up by 23 per cent across all devices in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to the same time in the previous year. Search volumes on mobile devices were up by 16 per cent.
Martijn Bertisen, retail director at Google said, “Overseas interest in UK brands was up 23 per cent in the last quarter of 2016. Foreign exchange rates have continued to position UK brands favourably internationally, with particularly strong growth from our European neighbours.

“Slowing tablet sales has meant that increased demand is largely coming from smartphones, with triple digit growth observed in some regions. In this mobile-first world, having a great user experience is crucial for our retailers. A recent Google study found that only five of the top 20 UK retailers’ mobile sites load in less than two seconds.”

The most popular categories that overseas shoppers looked for via mobile were apparel (+64 per cent) and beauty (+50 per cent). The strongest interest came from Croatia (+106 per cent). At home, said Bertisen, searches were directed towards consumer electronics across all categories. “Driven by Black Friday and Christmas deals, UK consumers still demand the latest product releases and tech gadgets,” he said.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium said, “Digital continued to play a pivotal role in driving sales for UK retailers in the final quarter of 2016. In December, the online penetration rate for non-food remained above 20 per cent for the fifteenth consecutive month and the channel won its greatest share of Black Friday and Christmas sales to date. It is no surprise therefore that today’s figures, which show high double digit growth of mobile search volumes across most UK brand categories, are consistent with this trend.

“At home, the top trending searches reveal that seasonal occasions and events prompted the highest volumes of browsing activity. Meanwhile, the attention of overseas consumers was drawn to the apparel and beauty brands which demonstrated the strongest growth in category searches on a mobile device, with an impressive 64 per cent and 50 per cent increase respectively.

“This quarter’s figures provide further evidence that the EU is an increasingly important market for UK retailers and that consumers from the continent are increasingly likely to be experiencing the British retail offer through their smartphones. The challenges and opportunity for UK retailers to capitalise on this rapid growth persist and British businesses remain focussed on tailoring their ecommerce offer to utilise the strength and popularity of UK retail beyond our own borders, which shows little sign of diminishing.”