High Street outperforms e-retailers on the web
High Street retailers - such as Argos, Next, and Marks & Spencer - received 51.1% of all UK online retail visits during October 2007, while only 48.9% of online retail visits were to those without a physical presence such as Amazon or Dell, according to UK-based online competitive intelligence service Hitwise.
Traditionally the High Street retailers entertain less online traffic than their pure-play online competitors, except during the Christmas and January sales period.
Widening the retail gap However, according to Robin Goad, research director for Hitwise UK, "In 2006 High Street retailers overtook their online rivals only during the peak month of December, while this year they overtook in September and have been widening the gap ever since. It looks like this year will be a bumper Christmas online for traditional bricks and mortar brands."
Interestingly, search engines were found to be the largest source of traffic to both High Street and pure-play e-retailers online. However, High Street retailers were more successful at gaining traffic from search engines during October 2007, with search engines accounting for 37.1% of their incoming traffic compared to only 30.4% for the for pure-play online retailers.
E-mail's marketing contribution E-mail marketing has also become an important source of traffic for retailers in the run up to Christmas, with 1 in 20 visits to shopping and classifieds web sites coming from web-based e-mail in October. And an analysis from CheetahMail, Experian's e-mail marketing and web site analytics unit, found that UK consumers spent an average of £85 online in October in response to permission-based e-mail offers from apparel retailers.
"Traditional retailers using e-mail marketing to capitalise on the run up to Christmas is a shrewd move," according to Steve Lomax, CheetahMail's European managing director. "As we get closer to Christmas, we'll see e-mail marketing accelerate as traditional retailers use it as a major sales tool to advertise 'last minute' online-only promotions - but also to drive footfall for specific in-store offers."
Fastest growing category The apparel and accessories sector has seen the largest online growth of the 19 retail sub-sectors examined by Hitwise, increasing its share of online shopping and classifieds visits from 6.6% to 8.4% over the past 12 months. The sector now accounts for 1 in every 12 internet visits to online retailers. The top three apparel and accessories retail web sites in October were Next.co.uk, Asos.com and Topshop.co.uk. Not surprisingly, 'next', 'asos' and 'topshop' were also the three most searched-for terms sending traffic to the sector.
In October, Next's web site continued to lead the apparel and accessories category, receiving twice the market share of visits and 2.5 times as many brand searches its nearest rival, Asos. However, both Asos and Topshop have seen a steady growth in visits over the past year. Both sites index well with females aged 18-24, and capture a higher proportion of traffic from the North West region and London than Next does.