International appetite for UK brands surges, latest BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor shows

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More international consumers are searching for British retailers online and they are increasingly using mobile devices to search, according to the BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor Q4 2014. 

Helen Dickinson, director general, British Retail Consortium, said: “Today’s figures clearly demonstrate the appetite of consumers across the globe for UK retail. This presents an enormous market opportunity for retailers regardless of their size.

“One of the key trends retailers will be paying close attention to is, in the emerging markets, the first digital point of contact for a huge number of consumers is a smartphone or tablet device. This is because in many of those markets mobile infrastructure is far superior to the fixed line broadband networks in more established economies like the UK. This means that if Britain’s retailers want to take advantage of the interest being abroad they’ll need to continue their investment in device-optimised platforms; ensuring that no matter how a customer first comes into contact with them they can offer the world beating service that is the hallmark of British retailing.

“It is absolutely clear from today’s statistics that there is an international market for UK retailers and there is strong international demand for their products. In order to take best advantage of this it is incumbent on governments and international regulators to ensure that they help, not hinder, UK retailers reach keen consumers around the globe.”

Peter Fitzgerald, retail director, Google, said: “The growth of mobile and connected devices continued to power our clients’ export efforts in 2014, with many of the largest emerging and established markets seeing astounding smartphone growth. Understanding the role of mobile in the purchase process is vital if retailers are to unlock its full value.

“In the UK you can’t talk about Q4 without mentioning Black Friday, which saw phenomenal uptake with four times as many searches for Black Friday deals in 2014 than in the previous year. Given these impressive figures, we expect to see interest in Black Friday continue to grow in 2015.

“British leisure brands really blazed a trail this Christmas, with an impressive 285% increase in searches compared to the same period in 2013. Beauty and personal care also saw a real surge of interest, with fragrances, candles, and skincare products all seeing impressive year on year search growth.”

International focus

Overseas consumers searching for UK retailers Fourth Quarter 2014

Year-on-Year % change

Mobile Search Volumes Tablet Search Volumes
Argentina 240% 1%
Poland 97% 26%
Hungary 88% 35%
Greece 73% 42%
Netherlands 69% -4%
Norway 66% 8%
Ireland 61% 39%
Sweden 58% 16%
South Korea 50% 8%
France 45% 4%
Spain 44% 11%
Italy 44% 12%
United States 42% -4%
Denmark 35% 15%
Germany 18% -4%
Japan -3% -9%
  • The growth in searches on mobile devices to retail sites has greatly outstripped growth on tablets for the above countries
  • Argentina, Poland and Hungary have seen the most substantial growth rates in mobile search volumes at 240%, 97% and 88% respectively, for UK retail searches
  • A number of countries demonstrated considerable rates of growth in tablet searches including Greece (42%), Ireland (39%), Hungary (35%) and the Poland (26%)
  • Japan was the only country to experience a decline in the number of searches to UK retailers both on tablets and on mobile