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The growth of online shopping

The growth of online shopping hit a record high in December according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The report stated that one in five non-food items were bought online, with a 19.2 % growth in Internet purchases from the previous year. There has been a huge 150 per cent increase in shopping via smartphones compared to 2012.

Why has online shopping grown so much? What are the benefits? There are several reasons why the convenience of online shopping is starting to outweigh in store shopping;

Opening Times

With people working longer and harder hours than ever before, the ability to pop to the shops has become more difficult. In comparison to high street stores, which are generally open between 8am – 5pm, online stores are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To increase online sales, offer next day delivery with orders placed as late as 10pm.

Personal interaction

For many, interacting with a digital device is preferable to the thought of having to interact with a pushy sales person. Purchasing online, is simple, anonymous and relatively painless. And there are no queues to stand in!


The ability to compare any item on the Internet is easier than ever. It takes two minutes to compare one item from multiple different shops, whereas making the same comparisons on the high street could take all day. Not only can the price be compared, websites will also recommend similar products to you. Yes, shop assistants can also recommend, but their suggestions are based on a single opinion, whereas reviews sites give a much wider spread. With voucher sites and shopping sites such as eBay, Wowcher and Google Shop being free to access, it is not only quick but can also save you money.

Express/Next Day Delivery

Especially in the U.K, thanks to Royal Mail and other carriers, the ability to choose Express delivery is widely available. Even when purchasing products from private sellers at eBay, the ability to have your item the very next day is a real possibility. Fast delivery means that for 9-5 workers, waiting until weekend for making purchases is no longer necessary. Many businesses, in high competitive seasons, will lower delivery prices or upgrade to next day for free in order to undercut competitors.

Worldwide Availability

Before the days of internet shopping, the only way to get the very latest trending, fashions was to be at the catwalk. But now, with the use of social media, fashion pictures are posted in ‘real-time’ on social media from shows with a direct link to sales outlets. To wait until the same outfit was available on the high street could take weeks, and in fashion terms that is old news.

Testimonials/Product reviews

To instantly see other users’ experience and opinion of a product is arguably the strongest weapon that online shopping possesses in the battle against the high street. Consumers value other consumers’ opinion very highly in the purchasing process. Although consumers could ask friends and family about purchasing decisions, the chance that they have bought the identical product is slim. By purchasing online, an opinion on a product can easily be found, and more often than not is featured with the item and is extremely easy to access.

According to research, more than 10 per cent of all retail sales are now made over the internet in the UK, this is also expected to double by 2020. How do you feel about online shopping?

Ian Simpson, Managing Director of Catalogues4Business and Digital4Business