UK & Ireland shoppers demand convenience, yet slow to adopt e-commerce technologies, says Nielsen

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New data from Nielsen has revealed shoppers in the UK and Ireland are slow adopters of new e-commerce technologies compared with their global counterparts, despite an increasing demand for greater convenience.

Nielsen’s research shows FMCG online sales now account for almost 7% of total FMCG sales in the UK. By the end of 2020, Nielsen anticipate that online FMCG sales through supermarkets will be close to £10bn a year, up from £7bn in 2017.

Alongside this growth of online FMCG sales is the growing demand, globally, for greater e-commerce convenience. The Nielsen Quest for Convenience report, highlights rapidly growing demand for convenience in markets around the world, including the UK and Ireland, finding that more than one quarter of global consumers seek out products which make their life easier (27%) and are convenient to use (26%).

Despite leading global markets with use of self-serve checkouts, shoppers in the UK and Ireland failed to show significant interest in using other e-commerce technologies available, such as in-store WiFi, QR codes, mobile shopping lists, and social media to aid purchasing decisions. 

32% and 31% of UK and Ireland shoppers, respectively, say they are already using self-service checkouts to reduce checkout times, compared with a global average of just 23%. 

But when it came to willingness to log-in to store Wi-Fi, only 20% and 29% of UK and Ireland shoppers, respectively, said they would do so to receive more information or offers in-store. This is compared with a global average of 36%, and 40% adoption in Asia-Pacific. This region, according to Nielsen’s data, stands out as a world leader for e-commerce technology adoption. 

Similar results were found for the use of QR codes. Only 18% and 25% of UK and Ireland shoppers, respectively, said they would be willing to scan QR codes to access more detailed product information while in-store, again compared with a global average of 34% and 39% of shoppers in Asia-Pacific.

The willingness of shoppers to use online or mobile shopping lists in the UK was half (21%) of the number of those in Asia-Pacific (40%). 28% of Irish shoppers said the same, compared with a 36% global average.

The use of social media to aid purchase decisions was by far the least popular for UK and Ireland shoppers; only 9% (UK) and 15% (Ireland) said they’d be willing to use it, just one third and one half, respectively, of the number of those in Asia-Pacific who said the same (30%).

Mike Watkins, head of retail insight from Nielsen,says: “Over the last four years, Nielsen has been tracking a rapidly growing demand for convenience in markets around the world and identified the factors driving this, which include shrinking household sizes, generational needs, and emerging technology. These drivers of convenience, and increasing demand for products and solutions which help to simplify lifestyles, are having an impact across a myriad of industries, particularly e-commerce. 

“There is no doubt that UK and Ireland shoppers are demanding greater convenience from their retail experiences. But Nielsen’s results show there is a clear need for more to be done in terms of educating and encouraging the use of new and emerging e-commerce technologies that will deliver the convenience that consumers demand”.