E-retailers look to bricks and clicks to boost sales in 2014

SME e-retailers in the UK are planning to expand into physical stores during 2014 as online competition for sales grows, according to an annual survey by Royal Mail.

One in six are thought to be looking at expanding their footprint with a physical store, or finding space in one, the results found.

In addition, 15 percent of UK SME e-retailers are planning to expand by using online marketplaces to sell their goods and 40 percent are planning to start trading from new channels in the coming 12 months in a bid to boost sales.

The study found that 54 percent of the 400 UK SME online retailers surveyed believe competition for online shoppers is more intense than last year, with 59 percent stating that this is because there are more websites to compete with.

“Royal Mail’s annual tracker study of UK SME online retailers shows that while the majority expect to increase sales, competition is more intense than it was last year,” said Nick Landon, Managing Director of Royal Mail Parcels.

“UK SME online retailers are thinking carefully about how they can develop their businesses during 2014. They are concentrating on exploiting as many channels to market as possible, adding space in physical premises and online marketplace listings to complement their existing web channel.”

He added: “In addition, they are concentrating on how to price competitively while increasing the range and quality of their goods.”

The research also found that pricing more competitively has overtaken increasing the range of goods available as the top priority for increasing customer satisfaction.

Increasing the quality of products was the third most popular priority for 2014 – despite being ranked the top reason by UK SME online retailers for customer satisfaction both last year and in 2012.

Trading results for retailers over the Christmas period have so far shown a strong boost in online activity, with both John Lewis and Debenhams seeing an increase.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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