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Is the downturn leading to increased use of ecommerce?

Is the downturn leading to increased use of ecommerce?

Evidence suggests that as more people are feeling the pinch of higher fuel and household bills, they are seeking savings online. Could greater use of e-commerce be a silver lining to the cloud of the Credit Crunch? It's no surprise that the trend for shopping online continues to grow, as more shops are available and people having a positive experience return to buy more online. But could the UK's economic woes, which are dominating the headlines these days, be driving even more people online to seek savings? As reported by The Scotsman, research by Capgemini indicates this may be the case. The trends it highlights include:
  • Internet shopping has increased by 38% compared with the same period in 2007, equal to 17p of every retail pound spent.
  • Some retailers are seeing a surge in their online sales combined with a drop in their out of town stores. Could this be due to less willingness to drive to several shops, thanks to soaring petrol prices?
  • The greatest increase in sales is in areas where traditional stores, allowing physical contact with the products, would seem best suited; clothing, lingerie and shoes.
So what is happening in the UK shopping landscape? Are petrol prices causing shoppers to think twice before jumping in their cars to head to the shops? Are congestion and parking prices dissuading users from heading to the town centre? Are more people gravitating to online shopping because it is easier, and allows you to do things you can't do in the real world (like comparing prices for the same product in a few seconds through comparison sites)? And will this put greater focus on the importance of usability and user experience for online retailers to retain the custom of new online shoppers? Its probably all of these things and more, on a buoyant trend to shop more online. It is also likely that the increase in online shopping is countered by a decrease in discretionary spending overall, but in any case some interesting changes are happening in UK shopping habits, and perhaps fuelled by the credit crunch and rising cost of living. My colleague Lorraine has written an article exploring these issues in a bit more depth and with some tips for improving the usability of e-commerce retail stores. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this especially if you are involved in e-commerce or a 'clicks and bricks' store. Do these general trends match your experience?

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