UK retailers enjoy surge in online searches from overseas shoppers, BRC-Google research shows


UK retailers have enjoyed double and triple digit rises in online searches from key export markets, according to new data from the BRC and Google.

Helen Dickinson, director deneral, British Retail Consortium, said: “The UK is the world’s second biggest online retail exporter, beaten only by the USA. These new BRC-Google figures show UK retailers are investing heavily in international online experiences, localised websites and faster delivery times to drive exports.

“We have taken a close look this quarter at four key export markets. We’ve seen huge increases in searches from all of the most important. There was a massive 231% rise in German smartphone searches for UK brands and a 78% surge in French tablet searches for UK retailers. These positive results were supported by big increases from the other key markets, the Netherlands and the United States. We also saw large increases in searches for department stores, 78% up on smartphones and 46% up on tablets, demonstrating the strength of these UK retailers.

“There were also very positive results from the Russian Federation and Argentina. We will be working hard to make sure that these good trends are not undermined by proposals in these countries for import taxes targeted against cross-border internet sales.”

Peter Fitzgerald, retail director, Google, said: ‘’This Christmas mobile truly came into its own. Those retailers who invested in cross-device experiences – allowing their customers to easily find, buy and discover no matter where they are -reaped the rewards.

“Export continued to be a key driver of growth for our retailers this Christmas, particularly for our clothing and beauty brands. Phenomenal smartphone growth was seen across both emerging and established markets, with 231% growth in smartphone searches from Germany over Q4.

“Finally gadgets continued to be the gift of choice this year, with consoles, tablets & games leading the charge. On smartphones, wedding related searches trended.’’

International Focus

Overseas consumers searching for UK retailers Fourth Quarter 2013Year-on-Year % change
Smartphone Search Volumes Tablet Search Volumes
Germany 231% 130%
Russian Federation 145% 66%
Argentina 137% 45%
Netherlands 95% 47%
France 89% 78%
India 85% 10%
Mexico 84% 40%
South Korea 79% 33%
Brazil 76% 9%
Turkey 70% 19%
Ireland 53% 56%
United States 52% 35%
Japan 1% -18%
  • Q4 2013 experienced a 64% increase in the total volume of overseas consumers searching for UK brands on smartphones, with a 41% year-on-year increase in the volume of searches by tablet
  • Germany, the Russian Federation and Argentina have seen the most substantial growth rates in smartphone search volumes at 231%, 145% and 137% respectively, for UK retail searches
  • A number of countries demonstrated considerable rates of growth in tablet searches including Germany (130%), France (78%), Russian Federation (66%), Ireland (56%) and the Netherlands (47%)
  • The number of UK consumers searching on smartphones for overseas retailers rose 28% year-on-year ending Q4 2013, while on tablets this figure grow by 43%
Overseas customers searching for UK Retailers Fourth Quarter 2013Year-on-Year % change
Smartphone Search Volumes Tablet Search Volumes
Apparel 66% 41%
Home & Garden 53% 40%
Beauty 56% 51%
Leisure 17% 22%
Department Stores 78% 46%
  • All sectors experienced an increase in the volume of overseas customers searching for UK retailers on both smartphones and tablets
  • Department stores witnessed the largest increases in searches by smartphones, with a 78% increase followed by Apparel (66%) and Beauty (56%)
  • Beauty was the most searched sector by overseas customers on tablets, experiencing an increase of (51%), followed by Department Stores at (46%) and Apparel (41%)