March 31, 2011, 12:17 PM

U.K. retailers are especially reliant on web sales, Gartner says

11% of U.K. sales for major multichannel retailers came from the web in 2009.

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Retail chains in the United Kingdom are especially dependent on e-commerce, and that reliance is growing, according to a survey by research and consulting firm Gartner.

A survey of major multichannel retailers in the third quarter of 2010 found that U.K. retailers took in 11.15% of their sales in 2009 from the web, compared with an average of 5.64% for retailers in nine major economies. By 2013, the U.K. retailers expect 15.94% of their sales will be online versus 8.86% for all the retailers surveyed. U.K. retailers also expect 3.44% of their sales will come from mobile commerce in 2013, compared with 1.26% for all the merchants surveyed.

“Responses from U.K. retailers indicated that the U.K. retail market is, and is likely to remain, the most multichannel-oriented market of the countries surveyed—Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.,” note Gartner analysts John Davison and Mim Burt. Their commentary is contained in a report entitled “Emerging Trends in E-Commerce” sponsored by e-commerce technology provider iCongo Inc.

The Gartner study did not highlight the performance of individual retailers. However, details of the e-commerce sales of leading European retailers are available in the newly published Top 300 Europe research guide.

Reasons for the high rate of e-commerce sales in the United Kingdom include high Internet penetration among consumers, high online per capita spending and good multichannel fulfillment infrastructure, the Gartner analysts say. U.K. consumers are enthusiastic multichannel shoppers, the report notes, pointing out that, along with shoppers in China, U.K. consumers were the most likely to believe they can find cheaper prices by shopping all of a retailer’s channels, including physical stores, the web and catalogs.

The study found that 79.7% of the sales of the U.K. retailers surveyed came from their bricks-and-mortar stores in 2009, 11.15% from the web, 4.15% from mail order/catalog, 4.85% from call centers and 0.25% from mobile commerce. Comparable 2009 figures for all nine countries were: stores  91.2%, e-commerce 5.64%, mail order/catalog 1.24%, call center 1.56%, mobile commerce .09% and other channels 0.35%.

Here is the percentage breakdown of those same channels for 2013:

• U.K.: 73.06, 15.94, 3.94, 3.61, 3.44, 0

• Nine countries: 87.01, 8.86, 1.02, 1.4, 1.26, 0.46

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