January 10, 2011, 3:03 PM

U.K. holiday e-retail sales grow 12% for smaller merchants

44% of U.K. shoppers spent more online this holiday, but not all were satisfied.

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One report out of the United Kingdom says e-retail sales increased in Britain during the holiday season, while another says nearly half of online shoppers report encountering problems with web sites. 

U.K. online sales for small and medium-sized e-retailers increased 12% in the fourth quarter compared with a year ago, according to Actinic Software, an e-commerce software provider. The average number of orders processed by each e-retailer surveyed increased 10%, according to the survey.

A separate survey estimates U.K. e-retail holiday sales totaled 2.8 billion pounds (US$4.36 billion). YouGov conducted the online survey of 2,122 adults on behalf of Tealeaf Technology, a vendor of technology that measures customer experience on web sites. YouGov did not provide a total sales comparison to 2009, but said that 44% of respondents spent more online for Christmas 2010 than for Christmas 2009.

But a fair number of those shoppers had complaints. 45% of respondents to the Tealeaf survey say they encountered web site problems while doing their Christmas shopping, and 32% of those who ran into problems say they abandoned their transactions. Tealeaf says problems during the checkout process were most likely to cause consumers to abandon their purchases. Delivery prices, cited by 13% of respondents, and delivery timing, cited by 8% of respondents, also contributed to cart abandonments. 

“Despite the potential gains up for grabs, retailers are still putting obstacles in the way of their customers successfully buying from them. In addition to denting e-commerce revenues in the short term, these avoidable mistakes are also damaging consumer trust and brand reputation, leading to long-term revenue losses,” says John Lillie, vice president of Tealeaf.

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