Guest post: Keeping up to speed with online activity in the retail sector

The growth and adoption of digital and mobile technologies has transformed people’s everyday lives and brought about on-going structural change to the retail landscape.


The way people shop has changed dramatically

The way people live their lives is constantly evolving so it’s no great surprise the way they shop is changing as well.

An informed and ever-connected consumer can now shop at any time of the day or night, from anywhere, post reviews instantly and share their experiences with their friends and online communities across the world.  Understanding these trends is vital to the future success of the retail industry.

The inevitable move to multi-channel retailing presents a steep learning curve for retailers, with real costs as well as enormous benefits. What works in a purely online environment does not necessarily transfer seamlessly to store-based retail. Awareness of the possibilities and limitations of technology as a driver of shopping habits and behaviours is crucial.

Retailers must increasingly integrate their in-store and cross-channel offers to provide a seamless, customer-driven shopping experience. Understanding customers and constantly re-inventing customer relationships to meet their needs is the essence of good retail.

Therefore, knowing how your customers behave online is essential yet digging into ‘big data’ to discover trends and patterns that then lead to actionable insights can seem intimidating.

To this end The BRC and Experian have partnered to create a new monthly report that provides valuable insight into digital retail trends, including retail sector breakdowns for visits and views, data on device splits and duration provided across regions, ages, socio-demographic backgrounds and more.

Drawing on Experian’s Hitwise online intelligence tool the report analyses upstream and downstream traffic to retail sites allowing retailers to form an impression of the behaviour, intention and ‘mindset’ of visitors to a website. This report forms the industry benchmark for UK retail.

For example, the below graph – taken from the January 2015 BRC/Experian report – shows just how much traffic to retail websites has increased in the past 12 months. In 2014 there were over 32.6 billion visits to retail websites. This past month (January 2015) there were 2.8bn visitors to retail websites – an increase 38% on the year before. On average, consumers spent 4 minutes and 24 seconds on retail sites, spending the longest time on food and drink sites at 8 minutes 48 seconds.

Retail traffic

Traffic to retail websites has increased in the past 12 months

The sheer volume of traffic and continuing traffic increase just goes to show how important online retail is to the sector. Are these people offline shoppers who are also shopping online? Are they new customers? These are questions that retailers need to address immediately as they need to adapt at the same rate as their customers in order to survive.

Click here to find out more about the British Retail Consortium.

Experian Marketing Services is the leading global provider of consumer insights, targeting, data quality and cross-channel marketing. We help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers.

By helping marketers identify best customers, find more, and then coordinate seamless and intelligent interactions across the most appropriate channels, Experian Marketing Services can deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.