Online retail continues to position itself as a vital platform for modern shoppers, according to social shopping website Shopow.
At the same time, high street chains are increasingly looking to the web as a new avenue for sales, it says.
New retail figures from the Office for National Statistics show e-commerce continuing to grow as more consumers turn to the internet as a more convenient way to buy their goods, Shopow said. And, as sales on the high street remain unsteady, more retailers are looking for innovative ways of regaining momentum, Shopow claims.
The value of internet retail sales, part of the monthly retail sales figures for July 2011, show online purchases now amount to £523.4m – 9.1% of total retail sales.
This is an increase from a year ago, when the figure was £395.8m – 7.1% of total retail sales. During the downturn in the economy, shoppers are on the hunt for lower prices, Shopow claims.
Kevin Flood, CEO of Shopow (www.shopow.com), said: “This is positive from the viewpoint of online retailers and shoppers because the squeeze on disposable incomes has meant more people are searching online to find bargains, comparing multiple prices at a time.
“Now is an uneasy environment for retailing and so any method stores can use to be innovative will be successful if it captures the imagination of the shoppers.”
Social shopping has emerged as an exciting trend in online retailing as many high street stores look to invest in new ways, said Shopow. It involves the use of social networking to share recommendations, share discounts, post reviews and ask for advice on products before purchase.
Flood said: “Regular web shoppers are now empowered to talk about their purchases in an honest way. Social shopping with Shopow enables shoppers to use their trusted networks to make informed decisions but also makes online shopping more interactive and enjoyable.”
Overall, retail sales rose but only slightly. The 0.2% monthly increase in sales reflects a decline in disposable income and the ongoing struggle found on the nation’s high streets. There will be hopes multi-channel retailing will offer ways to slow the decline of major retailers, said Shopow.