August 1, 2003, 12:00 AM

What U.K. online retailers must do to preserve their 208% July boost

To reach a projected 46% gain in online spending this year, U.K. web retailers must follow U.S. lead with promotions and reassurances on security, says Forrester, including security and privacy links at all points that request personal data.

The U.K.’s 24/7 promotion last month boosted online sales in the U.K by 208% over the previous year, according to the sponsoring Interactive Media in Retail Group. To keep up the momentum, U.K online retailers must borrow some lessons already learned by U.S. Internet retailers, says the U.K. arm of Forrester Research Inc.

In a new report, Forrester points out that despite a climate of economic uncertainty, U.S. Internet retailers and travel sites have driven 52% growth year over year to a collective $78 billion in online sales in 2002 by using price promotions, expanding product categories and multi-channel marketing online.

Forrester predicts that online retail spending in the U.K. will increase by as much as 46% in 2003, but it also says realizing that upside will take some effort by online retailers. For example, 55% of non-buyers in the U.K. say they don’t buy online because they don’t want to give their credit card information over the web. To persuade those consumers to buy online, retailers must offer a simple, easy to understand privacy and security policy link at every step in the purchase process where users are asked to supply information, Forrester says. Retailers also should back that up with online help and an easy method of escalation to live help, such as call centers, Forrester notes.

As successfully used in the U.S, cross promotions and free delivery could help increase online spending in the U.K., Forrester recommends. Such promotions could encourage additional spending, for example, by offering complementary products side by side on the site and locating impulse buys in the pathway to checkout, and by offering free shipping on purchases that meet a minimum threshold.

Forrester notes that about 65% of adults online in the U.K have purchased a product or service on the Internet, compared to about 70% in the U.S.


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