The UK loves a good dose of retail therapy. But when it comes to sourcing the best bargains, it’s likely that a run out to the high street or the nearest industrial unit can’t beat the deals available online. It comes as a bit of a surprise therefore that online share of overall retail sales is still only at 16%. What’s not surprising about the numbers, however, is that that stat is up from only 9% back in 2012. So, online shopping is certainly on the rise. But why is it that we get the best deals online? Let’s explore some of the details.
Business Costs – Online v Physical
Today, practically anyone can run a business. All it takes is a web builder, a few quid and a social platform. On a larger scale, if you compare online businesses to that of physical outlets, the cost differences are already apparent. The rental charges, council tax, utility bills and so on are already adding extra cost to the business, meaning that physical outlets and retailers on the high street have less flexibility when it comes to offering their customers the best deals to compete with those online. Online businesses usually need a storage unit and a great system of organisation behind it. With little maintenance needed for the upkeep of the ‘look’ and appeal of a storage unit vs a shop, for example, and the lack of requirement to pay for a physical shop in itself, the costs of operating online allow for discounts and offers that physical outlets just can’t match. The space required is also a factor. With seasonal changes to most retail operations, many physical stores have to get rid of end of line or out of season stock. Online retailers have the flexibility to hold onto end of line stock and offer them to consumers at a much cheaper rate as ‘clearance’.
The Ease of Marketing
In addition to keeping costs low, retailers that operate online will set out to market online too. Online marketing is hugely affordable, with many directories for business being free, many social media advertising tools offering amazingly affordable and bespoke packages, and so on. It’s word of mouth on rocket fuel, and it is extremely successful. So, again, keeping costs low, and advertising on the same platform from which you sell, allows online retailers to discount products.
One of the only negative aspects of online ordering is that we rely on prompt delivery, which isn’t always as quick as popping to the store and walking out with the product in hand. However, it could be argued that online delivery systems actually cut down on an environmental impact, as they offer multiple drop-off deliveries in one go, rather than the impact of hundreds of consumers taking their cars to local stores and back. With multi-drop deliveries and deals in place with delivery companies, however, this is yet another efficient and cost effective way for online retailers to save money and, in turn, offer unbeatable prices to the consumer.