It’s official…! British people are the leading online shoppers in the world…! According to a report from OFCOM each of us spends an average of £1,083 a year online, almost £250 more than our nearest rivals, the Australians. Whichever way you cut the data, we are the shopping kings of the Internet.
But the question is…why? What is it about Britons that makes us so attached to online shopping? It can’t be the convenience of it, because it is just as convenient for anywhere else in the world. Indeed with the enormous travel distances in American and Australia you might have thought they’d prefer to do more Internet shopping than us.
There are two features of shopping in the UK however which stand out as peculiarly British. Much retail in the UK is awash with abysmal customer service. True, independent local stores do go out of their way to please customers, but the average High Street in Britain is just that – average. And there is another peculiarly British thing about shopping in the UK – prices. The word “rip off” were invented for us it seems.
Online two things stand out – lower prices and improved service levels. Admittedly online there is still some shoddy service, but the low attention spans and the highly competitive nature of e-commerce mean that we can move from shop to shop with much more ease than we can in the real world. As a result, online retailers have to respond to survive. And thanks to price comparisons and our knowledge that in general the Internet is cheaper than the real world then online retailers have to give keen prices.
So why do we flock to the Internet in Britain? Because in general we get better service and lower prices than in the High Street.
Whenever I talk to retailers they are keen to understand how they can make their online presence as close as possible to their bricks-and-mortar stores. But I think they need to flip that thinking. Their real world shops would do so much better if they made bricks and mortar stores operate much more like the Internet – with better service and better prices.