The rise of e-commerce

Stephen McCance November 13, 2014

The rise of e-commerce has changed the way in which we shop over the past decade. In this post, we look at the way in which high street shops can compete with the rise of the e-commerce store.

Recent years have seen e-commerce sites such as and increase in sales year on year. With this comes the closure of small businesses who have seen their high street stalls lose more and more footfall to the online retailers who are undercutting them.

The rise of e-commerce seems not to be slowing down anytime in the near future either. In a study last year conducted by global market measurement firm Nielsen, in conjunction with PayPal, it was found that shoppers spent about $105 Billion through cross-border e-commerce platforms in 2013. In 2018, the report, which is titled Modern Spice Routes, predicts that shoppers will be spending around 3 times that ($307 Billion).

We are reaching an age where we are starting to see some of the bigger brands start to lose out to online retailers and begin to close their doors, profits not able to keep up with the increasing costs of maintaining property on the high street. One of these shops was Woolworths, who after opening the first British store in 1909, closed all of it’s high street stores year shy of it’s 100th birthday between 27th December 2008 and 6th January 2009 which resulted in 27,000 job losses.

The Woolworths brand was bought out by the Shop Direct Group, who also own Very, Littlewoods and K&Co, who survived the brand by turning it into an internet based shopping company. This shows how a company can be saved through the move to e-commerce, however, what about those that want to go into e-commerce but also keep their position on the high street?

The way in which companies can do this is to evolve their shops to include a bustling e-commerce sector. Establishing a USP online is very important while maintaining your stores for people who prefer to walk around and pick things up before buying them, which remains the one thing that actual physical stores will have over e-commerce sites. One of the issues with buying cross-border is that it is unlikely you will have seen or felt the product before purchase and so there is obviously a bigger risk involved. Therefore, that is an obvious benefit for having an e-commerce site while maintaining your shops for those that prefer this kind of shopping.

Large retails stores such as M&S, Sainsbury’s are amongst others who have invested in this manner of retail. They have maintained their shops which feature on almost every high street, but have diversified to include a big online presence as well; you can either shop in-store or order online. This means that, in theory, they should be less affected by the fact that we are purchasing more and more online.

With the report projecting that we will be spending more and more online than ever before, now might be the time to start investing in your online presence if you haven’t already done so. With the larger choice and lower prices that e-commerce is offering, can you afford not to?

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