A nation of shopkeepers?

The UK leads the way in eCommerce

We Brits spend 13.5% of our hard earned cash online (vs. in store) and it’s growing fast. That’s pretty impressive and it’s one of the highest rates in the world. Even more impressive is how many non-Brits buy from UK ecommerce companies.

At Forward Partners we back solo-founders and early stage ecommrce businesses — the foundations of economic growth. However it’s always important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. We have to keep in touch with macro goings on in the world of ecommerce.

Nic, our Managing Partner, talked about how the UK has the world’s leading ratio between ecommerce : traditional retail revenues in his blog a couple of weeks ago. Since then, we’ve been collecting data from various sources to put together a picture of how competitive the UK is in relation other leaders in ecommerce.

In addition to the UK consumer’s comparative propensity to shop online or on mobile, it seems to be that other countries’ consumers are also more likely to shop online with UK companies!

Google and OC&C produced a report this year showing the ‘surpluses’ of the 6 big Western ecommerce markets: the UK, USA, France, Germany, Netherlands and the Nordics. Between the 6 of us, we share over half of the world’s ecommerce revenues but the trading picture between us is very uneven.

By surplus or deficit we mean the balance between foreign-derived receipts for UK ecommerce businesses vs. the amount of ecommerce receipts lost to foreign competitors. In practice this means that customers from around the world are spending more money with our companies such as Asos, Net-a-Porter and Farfetch than UK consumers are spending with companies like Etsy, Bonprix and Glossybox.

The UK runs a surplus of $1.12bn; far beyond the USA in 2ndplace who have a surplus of $290m. The other 4 countries/regions run a deficit.

This is a measure of how attractive our UK ecommerce companies are to foreign consumers. Alongside our leading ratio of online vs. traditional retail revenues it seems as though the UK is the place to be for ecommerce.

Whether it’s on the ground marketing, growth hacking, quality product or excellent customer service the UK is leading the way and it shows.

This article was originally published on the Forward Partners blog on September 30th 2014