UK has most digitalised market in Europe and Amazon is UK’s top retailer, FullSIX study reveals

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The UK has most digitalised market in Europe and Amazon is the UK’s top retailer with 83% of the population having visited its website in the past three months. Eighty per cent of its users make a purchase, despite its absence from the high street. This is a record in the UK with Amazon pushing ahead of Boots and Argos, which reached 65% and 63% of the population respectively.

This data is the first wave of an ongoing comparative study into UK consumer purchasing habits on and offline, conducted by FullSIX London, one of the UK’s leading digital marketing agencies.

The study is called ROPO2, which stands for research online, purchase offline or research offline, purchase online.  It seeks to understand multi-channel purchasing behaviour and the cross-flow between digital and physical stores for retailers and brands. For the first time in the UK it enables brands to accurately track consumers’ on and offline buying behaviour across 44 of the UK’s biggest retailers.

Further insights reveal that UK consumers are most likely to research a product they wish to buy online before actively making their purchase in-store. On average 69% of consumers visit a retailer’s website, yet 52% prefer to make their purchase in-store. This demonstrates that website are playing an increasingly critical role in persuading consumers about key purchasing decisions, prior to them visiting a store, in order to complete the purchase. Eighty six per cent of all shoppers continue to visit stores proving that the high street is far from dead.

The research goes on to highlight a significant increase in consumers’ use of mobile devices when shopping, with 18% of retailer websites visited via mobile devices and 14% of users making a purchase. Within the clothing and sport sector, Next had the biggest overall audience (35%), beating Primark, (34%) and Top Shop, which captured only 12% of shoppers. However, Primark’s performance in terms of converting visits into actual sales is overwhelmingly strong with a massive 70% of its customers making a purchase.

Hugh Baillie, chief executive of FullSIX London, said: “These results are a both a confirmation of what we thought was there but also a genuine surprise. We knew that Online played a key role in how consumers chose a product and a retailer, but we did not anticipate the power and influence of Digital on sales in-store.  Being able to read these results at a granular level for all the major retailers in the UK, from Amazon to Boots, B&Q and Top Shop gives us true insights on how to optimize the ROPO phenomenon. Now that we can measure it, we can manage it.”

The research shows challenges vary for each retailer, some needing to focus on reach and footfall, while others need to better convert an already large audience on & offline. These insights emphasize the importance of digital channels as compelling destinations.

The categories retailers were covered under include: Home/Consumer Electronics, Phone/Broadband, Garden and DIY, General/Department stores, Apparel, Perfume and Beauty products, Books and Stationery along with seven pure online players.

The launch of ROPO2, by FullSIX London comes at a critical time for marketers as the UK’s online retail market continues to outperform expectations. Last year, the market was worth £91bn according to IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, with sales being driven by mobile devices.

ROPO2, is a major proprietary research initiative based on data gathered from a database of 7000 UK consumers, comprising of a representative panel of the UK population. The study is ongoing and will produce fresh data every six months. It will enable retailers to assess the efficacy of their multi-channel strategies over time, how to optimise it, and uncover new opportunities from new consumer behaviours.

The findings are based entirely on feedback from questions relating to key retail sectors, including clothing and sport, general and department store and perfume and beauty products.

ROPO2 was first launched by the FullSIX Group in France in 2012. It has been since been extended to Portugal and Italy and is likely to be rolled out to Germany and the US later this year.

The study was set up by the FullSIX Group, using the research panel Maximiles to run the questionnaire.