E-commerce creates virtual shopping in the home

According to Home Shopping, a new Market Report from market intelligence provider Key Note, innovation in e-commerce retailing in the past 5 years has given a dramatic boost to the traditional UK home shopping market. Once dominated by the likes of mail order catalogues and door-to-door salesmen, the home shopping market has taken on a new lease of life owing to the Internet and the migration of many traditional home shopping retailers and high-street, out-of-home retailers into e-commerce channels. Christmas 2013 saw the high street flooded with bad weather which resulted in a drought of in-store shoppers, with consumers preferring to shop virtually on the Internet from the comfort of their homes. Lower price points and the convenience of shopping while on the move, made possible through tablet and smartphone application ('app') technology and a rollout of Wi-Fi hotspots and 4G mobile networks, is encouraging people to increasingly favour e-commerce shopping channels.

While this relatively recent phenomenon of Internet shopping has swept the nation, some of the more traditional methods are losing custom as a result; mail order catalogues are being replaced by online counterparts and direct marketing channels are becoming irrelevant in the face of social media marketing. Delivery methods are also going digital with virtual films, music and books instantly accessible to consumers through downloads onto technological devices, while the world's largest online retailer, Amazon, has revealed controversial plans to use unmanned drones in the near future to deliver products to the consumer's home. Bucking the digital trend, the direct selling sector is thriving as party plans are facing new-found popularity with the likes of Ann Summers and Jamie Oliver parties offering fun ways to spend a night in and an alternative source of income for the company representatives.

However, George Osborne's proposed VAT increases for online retail businesses may hamper the reputation of e-commerce home shopping as excellent value for money, raising prices along the supply chain. Furthermore, the experience of home shopping struggles to match up to the buzz a shopaholic can get when browsing in their favourite stores. Yet, social shopping and augmented reality innovation are creating a virtual in-store experience for consumers, while a new generation of silver surfers in the coming years will expand the reach of e-commerce channels. Ongoing developments in Internet technology are therefore expected to continue to see the home shopping market thrive over the forecast period, with Key Note estimating consistent double-digit growth for each year between 2013 and 2018.


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