The Rise of E-Commerce and its Casualties in the UK
The early 90s did not only see through the foundation of the world wide web — it also saw through the foundation of e-commerce. This was the era when commercial business was legalised on the internet, the period when Amazon was founded, and the time eBay went public. The dawn of millennium also proved to be a monumental season for online shopping, as PayPal gets acquired by eBay, and the iTunes Store revolutionizes how the world purchases music and consumes television.
Today, 72% of the internet population go online to shop, and this is especially true for Britons.
The Telegraph reported that Britain is the biggest online shopping nation in the developed world, with almost two-thirds of adults buying goods or services digitally. They also added that the country’s voracious appetite for e-commerce is helped by the high number of people with a broadband connection in the UK.
Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at BroadbandChoices.co.uk, said, "It is no surprise to see online shopping becoming the favoured method for so many consumers.
Years ago shoppers would have had to trawl several different shops to check they were getting the best deal – time consuming and tiring.”
While the UK has a significantly smaller consumer market than the US, China, or even Japan, its shoppers spend more money online. eMarketer, a digital marketing research firm, reported that business-to-consumer online sales in the UK were on average $2,223 per person last year, the most of any country. That figure includes travel, digital downloads, and event tickets.
UK shoppers make 13.5% of their purchases online, and by 2013, officials announced that e-commerce sales in the UK grew to 16% — totalling to around £91 billion worth of online spending — of all retail sales. This rate is expected to surge to at least 22% of all consumer sales by 2018.
At the same time, the rise of e-commerce in the UK has shaken up the High Street. A study by the Centre for Retail Research showed that as British shoppers desert physical stores, a fifth of establishments on High Street could close by 2018. Worse, around 316,000 workers are expected to lose their jobs. The Retail Futures 2018 report says the first closures will be pharmacies and health and beauty stores, followed by those selling music, books, cards, stationery and gifts, as well as DIY outlets.
Major chains such as Tesco, Wickes, Asda and B&Q are opening fewer large stores, and Marks & Spencer is to stop building big outlets in 2016.
Here’s an infographic from Boothby Taylor that better illustrates the rise of e-commerce, and its casualties, in the United Kingdom.
The rise of e-commerce in the UK and the rest of the world only further proves how the constant innovation of technology is a double-edged sword. While e-commerce websites have improved the convenience of shopping, it is also causing the distress of physical store owners as well as their employees.
Only time will only tell what the future of shopping will be — but if the research mentioned is to be believed, looks like all of retailing, as with almost anything these days, is going online.