E-commerce is on the increase again after larger-than-expected falls at the start of the year. Figures from the IMRG e-Retail Sales Index show an increase of 10.4 per cent in March compared with February.
IMRG, made up of a coalition of 57 leading online retailers, estimates that e-retail will continue to grow ten-times faster than mainstream retail, with no indication that any sector is beginning to plateau. It predicts the e-retail market will be worth £1bn by the end of 2002, representing four per cent of total retail sales in the UK.
However, e-retail still accounts for a tiny fraction of total UK retail – just 2.45 per cent in February (although this is more than double the comparable US value of 1.1 per cent). And, according to the IMRG, its growth is “beginning more closely to resemble that of mainstream retailing,” in the sense that it is more seasonal.
Sectors most likely to be affected by e-retail’s growth include travel, books and cars; while areas that will remain relatively immune include petrol retailing and hairdressing. IMRG also sees a
continuing growth in the number of consumers using the Internet as a pre-purchase research tool.
The area requiring most urgent attention, according to IMRG members, is online payments. E-retailers feel they are bearing the brunt of online fraud and consumer security anxieties.