UK set to continue dominance of EU online retail

The UK is set to continue its dominance of a European online retail market where sales will reach €378 billion a year by 2021, a new Forrester report suggests.

Forrester’s Online Retail Forecast, 2016 To 2021 predicts that European online retail sales will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11 per cent over the next five years to reach €378 billion by 2021.

It says the UK will continue to dominate the market, along with France and Germany. Between them, these three countries will account for 69 per cent of total European retail sales in 2021, the report predicts. In the UK alone, online retail will account for almost a fifth of total retail sales by 2021, while it would also account for 12 per cent of the region’s total sales.

Forrester analysis puts growth down to super shoppers who use a variety of digital touchpoints to research and buy. It says super shoppers now make up 27 per cent of European consumers, and that this group of savvy consumers spends 10 per cent to 20 per cent more than traditional web or mobile shoppers. An omnichannel strategy will help here, it says, since store footfall and sales are falling. “Digital touchpoints let retailers reach and sell to customers in more places,” says report author Michelle Beeson.

“Omnichannel services, such as in-store endless aisle programs, help save otherwise lost sales and drive incremental sales.”
In the UK, says Beeson, “retailers are currently investing heavily in technology to support omnichannel and in-store digital capabilities to improve the customer experience and drive sales across all touchpoints, including digital transactions.”

Driving factors, says the report, are options that directly improve the customer experience. These include convenient and cost-effective fulfillment options. Its data found that 53 per cent of consumers were interested in scheduling times for their deliveries, while 29 per cent preferred to collect online orders in nearby stores.

While Northern European countries look set to maintain their lead in ecommerce, the fastest growth will come from Southern European markets such as Spain and Italy, set to enjoy a compound annual growth rate of, respectively, 16 per cent and 19 per cent a year. Nonetheless, this region will still less less than 10 per cent of overall retail sales made online by 2021.