The summer sporting season, a heatwave and even the royal wedding have given us plenty of reasons (or excuses) to open our wallets these past few months. But what have these summer milestones delivered to UK retailers? As we enter the second half of 2018, we’ve taken a closer look at this year’s online sales to find out. We analysed over one trillion transactions running through Adobe Experience Cloud and spoke to consumers in both the UK and the US to understand some of the peaks and patterns of year so far.
Some interesting findings were discovered, here’s our pick of the top trends for the UK:
Record beating year for online spending
Growth in UK online spending has beaten previous records, with e-commerce sales exceeding £28bn (over £14 billion per quarter) in the first half of the year – a staggering 9.9% year-on-year (YOY) growth in Q1 and 10.7% in Q2. The US was slightly ahead in terms of growth in Q2, with an increase of 14.6% YOY, taking sales to $115 billion.
What’s driving this growth in e-commerce sales? Taking a step back to look at economic impact more broadly, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has pointed to record weather, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the start of the world’s biggest football championship as reasons for increased consumer confidence and spending. In fact, the two highest online sales were the first days of the competition (June 14th and 15th) – £218.7 million and £237.6 million respectively.
On the flipside, two of the other most notable dates this past quarter – the royal wedding and Good Friday – were in fact the slowest for online sales. With e-commerce transactions significantly higher on the days before and after these events, it seems UK consumers often take time off from both work and shopping on big occasions like these.
Half of UK consumers buy groceries online
We are also quickly becoming a nation of online shoppers. Our data shows that UK consumers are more likely to have bought groceries online than their American counterparts, with over half (52%) having ordered via store websites at some point in the past year, compared to just a third (33%) in the US. Britons aren’t just using online stores for the basics either: 40% now buy most of their groceries online, compared to 23% in the US. UK shoppers have also embraced mobile shopping much more quickly: while visits from smartphones to UK retailers overtook desktop visits in December 2017, it took US retailers until June 2018 to do the same.
Online retailers experience ‘Manic Mondays’
While shopping figures are lowest over the weekend, Mondays consistently have the highest sales of the week, with sales decreasing as the week goes on. This trend goes back to the days of direct mail catalogues, where decisions were made on Saturdays and Sundays, and conversions took place back at work on a Monday. Consumers also used to enjoy faster broadband speeds in their office, so would wait until being at their desk to make purchases. More recently, shoppers are spending their weekends researching options (often visiting physical stores to see goods in person) and then purchasing online at the start of the working week, when more evenings are spent at home.
‘Buy British’ prompts surge in homegrown sales
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, we dug into some of the retail events that could be ones to watch. Although relatively low profile compared to events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Buy British Day is starting to have an impact on e-commerce sales. Held on October 1st, the day is designed to promote homegrown businesses. In 2017, retailers saw 11% more revenue coming from inside the country compared to the rest of the year, with a 7% uplift in sales compared to a typical day. In 2018, October 1st is expected to see a 12% lift over an average Wednesday.
These insights highlight the importance of creating great experiences that reach consumers when it matters the most. Retailers need to make smart but transparent use of data to personalise these experiences so they meet their needs in a way that builds brand love. What learnings can we take and apply to the rest of the year?
- For notable dates – such as public holidays or high-profile events – machine learning and artificial intelligence can help forecast offer scheduling, allocation of goods and recommendations to improve the customer experience, flow of products and any potential internal efficiencies
- For UK brands, Buy British Day is starting to turn into a major event. Plan ahead by building great experiences that drive conversions on October 1st and ensure you’re ready to deliver to increased consumer demand
- Most brands have already optimised for mobile. Now, the challenge is to deliver an experience that is both optimised and personalised, at scale. The augmented reality (AR) capabilities within smartphones will change how we shop in the physical space – either intelligently providing recommendations based on preferences while in store, or helping visualise how items online would look in-person (Ikea’s AR app is a great example of this). Retailers should consider how these capabilities could help them build personalised experiences
- Don’t take Mondays off! Or at least plan ahead for them. A well-timed and convenient experience could help capture a sale on the day consumers are most likely to spend online
About Adobe Digital Price Index
The Adobe Digital Price Index is based on analysis of over 1 trillion visits to over 4,500 retail sites in the U.S and UK. Pricing insights are based on analysis of sales of more than 55 million unique products in these regions. In addition, Adobe surveyed 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K., respectively, between May 31st and June 6th, 2018.
You can find more data and details from our Digital Price Index here.