Websites Need to Encourage Shopping Browsers to Buy; Head of Cardiff and South-East Wales for Barclays Commercial Bank, Andrew Rowlands, Looks at How Online Retailers Are Not Just Surviving but Thriving

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 21, 2009 | Go to article overview

Websites Need to Encourage Shopping Browsers to Buy; Head of Cardiff and South-East Wales for Barclays Commercial Bank, Andrew Rowlands, Looks at How Online Retailers Are Not Just Surviving but Thriving


Byline: Andrew Rowlands

THERE'S no doubt over the internet's success as a retail channel. Behind this success there are, however, many factors which have changed over time, including the consumer.

We're used to seeing fantastic growth figures for online sales, which for July were up 16.8% on 2008 - but there are push and pull factors which have led to the channel's success.

In the wake of the financial crisis, consumer confidence dropped significantly and consumers have become sensitive. Whether they have been directly affected through changes to their livelihoods or job stability, they're more cautious, more reluctant and scrutinise their spending decisions more than ever.

Consumers are spending, but the manner in which they are making spending decisions has changed. Footfall is down 2.1% in the year to date.

Allegra Strategies forecasts a decline of 0.5% in the eating-out market in 2009, but satellite broadcaster Sky has experienced the highest customer growth in five years and Domino's Pizza sales are up 19.5% in the half-year to the end of June.

All these statistics, although anecdotal, tell a story.

That story is arguably of the consumer controlling their spending environment, choosing to entertain at home over going out, where they may spend more than they would like.

I would argue that online retail has potentially benefited from this change in consumer patterns. Internet retail has a perception of value and with the rise of price comparison websites and search engines, the consumer has a feeling of greater control and the ability to save on purchases. …

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