The United Kingdom B2C ecommerce market is the third-largest in the world.

96% of the UK population uses the internet, and 86% of internet users are expected to make at least one purchase in 2019.

96% of the UK population uses the internet, and 86% of internet users are expected to make at least one purchase in 2019. Click To Tweet

After a rocky period through 2016, GDP has increased year-on-year, and ecommerce spending has likewise continued to grow.

The UK ranks highly on all of the main ecommerce indices, including “Logistics Performance”, “Ease of Doing Business”, and “E-Government Development”.

Nonetheless, there are challenges. The shadow of Brexit looms large, consumer confidence remains low, and the ecommerce space is increasingly dominated by a small handful of big players.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the main statistics, trends, and forecasts for the UK ecommerce market.

What will you find in this article?

Overview
Market Size
Most Popular Online Stores
Key Metrics for United Kingdom Ecommerce
Global Comparison
Key Trends and Statistics
Forecasts and Looking Ahead
Other Notable Statistics
Conclusion

Sounds good? Let’s get started.

Overview

The United Kingdom country code is .co.uk, the official language is English, and the currency is GBP (Great British Pound). It has a population of 67,625, 983. UK GDP per capita was 39,720.44 USD in 2017.

General information about ecommerce in UK
The United Kingdom has one of the world’s biggest economies and a highly developed ecommerce market.

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Market Size

The United Kingdom has the third largest ecommerce market in the world and the largest in Europe. The total projected revenue for 2019 is 200 billion euros.

Along with Germany and France, the United Kingdom is one of the primary drivers of the European economy and has historically played a central role in the European Union.

In 2016, the British population voted to leave the European Union. The long-term consequences of this decision, as it pertains to ecommerce and beyond, remain to be seen. On the whole, most commentators and experts are pessimistic in their outlook.
The largest ecommerce markets in the world
The United Kingdom has the world’s third-largest ecommerce market. (Source)
The ecommerce market also forms a significant part of the broader UK economy. 7.94% of GDP is attributable to ecommerce. This figure is expected to grow as retail shifts online and more “brick-and-mortar” retailers focus on developing an online presence.

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The biggest online stores in the UK (in order) are: Amazon UK, eBay UK, Asos, Argos, Asda, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Currys PC World, and Debenhams.

The biggest online stores in the UK (in order) are: Amazon UK, eBay UK, Asos, Argos, Asda, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Currys PC World, and Debenhams. Click To Tweet

Amazon UK has 446.5 million visits every month and accounted for 31% of all ecommerce sales in 2018. This percentage is a little lower than in other countries like in the sector of ecommerce in Germany, where Amazon is even more dominant.

Top ecommerce stores in the UK
Amazon UK is the largest online retailer in the UK. eBay UK comes in a close second.

Key Metrics for United Kingdom Ecommerce

Ecommerce websites in the UK have an average conversion rate of 1.88%. While this is a high conversion rate in a global context, surpassing Asian and South American markets (along with most other European markets), it still lags behind the US and Germany.

Average revenue per user (ARPU), which is calculated by dividing total revenue by the total number of users over a given year, is US$1,325.50.

As a percentage, mobile sales are expected to overtake desktop sales by 2023. In 2018, mobile accounted for 38% of sales. This figure is higher than many other countries where mobile commerce lags behind desktop commerce.

Smartphones account for 58.9% of all m-commerce sales. This percentage is expected to grow to 71.2% by 2023.

Global Comparison

The United Kingdom has experienced consistent growth since 2015. What’s more, the rate of growth has steadily increased. Growth from 2018 to 2019 is expected to be 14.6%.
UK ecommerce turnover and sales
The rate of ecommerce growth has steadily increased since 2015. (Source)
The figure for UK growth is interesting because ecommerce growth rates in many European countries are actually slowing. The predicted growth rate for Western Europe is 10.2% in 2019, a lower figure than the previous year. The UK market is nearly five percentage points above this number. It is also higher than the overall growth rate in North America.

Retail ecommerce sales worldwide
Western Europe has the lowest growth rate out of all the major global markets. (Source)
That said, however, the UK growth rate is five percentage points below the worldwide growth rate (see graph above).

It is important to understand UK ecommerce growth in the context of highly active and emerging Asia-Pacific and Latin American markets. While the UK growth rate may be lower when compared to Asian countries, as a whole European and North American markets are wealthier and more stable. What’s more, worldwide growth is steadily slowing.
Retail ecommerce sales worldwide
Worldwide growth is steadily slowing. (Source)

Here’s a quick rundown of some other major trends and statistics:

Payment methods

Debit and credit cards are the most popular payment methods, with over half (52%) of online shoppers opting for them in 2018. Paypal (and other similar online methods) come in a close second at 43%.
UK ecommerce payment methods
Debit and credit cards are the most popular payment methods in the UK. (Source)
Payment preferences of UK shoppers are in alignment with most other national ecommerce markets in the world, were debit/credit or bank cards are the method of choice.

Cross-border purchases

The majority of purchases (73%) are made within the UK. 16% of purchases come from EU markets and 11% from outside the EU. The biggest export market is the US, with sales totaling 58.4 billion dollars, followed closely by Germany, with sales totaling 46.6 billion dollars.
Ecommerce UK abroad purchases
The UK ecommerce market imports and exports heavily. (Source)

Forecasts and Looking Ahead

Many traditional retailers are struggling due to rising costs and the necessity of shifting from “brick-and-mortar” stores on the high street to digital channels. While the economic outlook is generally positive, low consumer trust and the looming specter of Brexit has meant that ecommerce growth (and market certainty) is lower than was perhaps expected.

While online sales current only constitute 17% of total retail sales (some studies put this figure closer to 25%), digital ecommerce is expected to continue to grow over the coming years. Many retailers are seeking to blend online and offline shopping, catering to the preference among many UK shoppers of sampling items in-store before buying online.

GDPR, data protection, and the balancing act between personalization and privacy will all continue to be prominent issues going into 2019 and 2020. The growing popularity of potentially invasive technologies, like voice shopping, may prove problematic.

Online retailers see social media as the most promising channel for boosting sales.

Other Notable Statistics

Here’s a quick rundown of some other notable stats and figures:

Conclusion

As the third-largest ecommerce market in the world, the UK is an essential part of the global ecommerce landscape.

The outlook for the UK online B2C market is positive, in spite of uncertain political times and general upheaval and uncertainty for traditional retailers. Growth is strong, outpacing all other European countries, internet penetration is high, and great swathes of the population are shifting online.

The UK market also presents exceptional opportunities for international retailers looking to expand into new markets.

Top Sources

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Growcode Ecommerce Blog / Bez kategorii / Ecommerce in the United Kingdom (UK) – Trends, Forecasts and Statistics

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