The march of the up-and-coming retailers

InternetRetailing and Ingenico Group, the seamless payments solutions provider, have partnered to provide what they describes as unique insight into British retail – beyond the best-known high street names. 

Building on four years of research into the IRUK Top500, the annual run-through of the country’s largest ecommerce and multichannel retailers, the Growth 2000 (G2K) offers a unique performance-based perspective on 2,000 retailers that immediately follow the Top500. Ranging from online confectionery, to beer, fashion and technology specialists, the diverse list encompasses regional retailers, direct-selling brands and specialists, and foreign retailers – all of which make up a huge and vibrant part of the UK retail market.

The report measures performance over four key areas: the ability to be found in search; connecting with mobile customers; efficient and flexible delivery options; and the emphasis on social media. 

The vast majority of G2K retailers have Facebook ‘fan’ pages, Twitter accounts and Instagram followings, while 47% enable shoppers to share products with their friends either on social media, email or other services. This was five percentage points lower than the Top500. 

“One in five of the G2K use live chat to conduct customer service and that’s a figure we expect to grow significantly over the coming years,” said Marc Birkner, Managing Director, EMEA, Small and Medium Businesses, Ingenico Group. “Conversational commerce on apps like Facebook Messenger reaches consumers where they tend to spend most of their time with a personalised service that answers questions and suggests products. Once this customer journey is established, it is essential that retailers don’t fall at the last hurdle, encouraging abandonment by sending customers to an external checkout page.” 

Discovery of retailers, brands and products also comes down to effective site search and navigation. Initial search results must be relevant but cross-selling techniques that recommend similar items are also important. 64% of G2K retailers cross-sell, which is lower than the 71% of the Top500 that do so. Similarly, wishlists are offered by 40% of the G2K but by 63% of the Top500. 

Mobile was highlighted as a key channel for growth for the 2,000 retailers. Many on the list do not yet operate mobile-optimised websites, but those that do achieve results that compare favourably to the Top500. G2k retailers tend to operate smaller size mobile pages than Top500, which gives them the inherent advantage of speed; median load times were measured at 6.7s, compared to 7.3s for the Top500. 

“Most consumers use their smartphones to organise their lives and retailers that don’t have a mobile presence are likely to be left behind,” continued Birkner. “mCommerce is rising rapidly across the world and big brands have been quick to jump on the trend. It’s important that small businesses level the playing field from a technology stand point, reaching customers with responsive mobile designs, in-app payments and frictionless repeat purchase.”

Delivery was the final key consideration. Convenience and price tend to be make or break factors for most consumers and the G2K responds well on the latter. The median threshold for free delivery is £45 among the G2K – the same offered by the Top500 – while the median delivery charge is £4. However, the Top500 lead the way on speed with 59% delivering next day, compared to just 35% of the G2K. 

Ian Jindal, Editor-In-Chief, InternetRetailing, commented “The Growth 2000 Report is a mark of strength and depth of the UK retail economy. It’s important to remember that size isn’t everything; not all retailers can or want to be the biggest, but our research shows a desire to be the best they can be.

We’ve seen how many of these great traders are continually adapting, hand picking key learnings from the best in the market to ensure that their offering truly connects with consumers.

Our five years of research in the UK and Europe has shown that every year our retailers get better. The G2K retailers will therefore need to keep improving in order to maintain their place in the list.”

InternetRetailing and Ingenico Group will continue tracking the progress of the G2K, measuring their performance in four critical areas and observing as some move up to the Top500 and others are replaced by up and coming retailers with new models yet to be revealed. 

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