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News - 8 January 2010

Stay on top with ecommerce

Business on the high street has been decimated by the snow but business on the internet is booming.

Footfall has been down about 40% in Brighton since the bad weather took a hold. This is very bad news for traders particularly those that don't have interactive web sites (more than half of businesses in the city).

However, there is good news for those that do have intereactive sites. The increase in ecommerce activity over the Christmas shopping period was over 50% and this is continuing with the January sales online.

A survey conducted by ecommerce specialist Actinic has backed up positive predictions for prosperous online Christmas trading for 2009.

In Actinic's seventh annual Christmas poll of small and medium enterprises (SME) selling online, respondents reported an average 51% increase in order volume for November and December 2009 compared with 2008 figures.

The average turnover figures were also positive with a 42% increase in revenue on 2008 although growth had slowed compared to last year's 48% over 2008. This trend highlights the increasing price sensitivity as shoppers continue to compare prices and seek out bargains. Sean McMenemy from suggested, “In tough times, don't cut back on advertising and marketing, potential customers shop around more during hard times, so don't miss this opportunity.”

Nick Kington, managing director at Actinic commented, “This is another impressive performance by online sellers in the SME market with many Actinic customers weathering the economic climate and reporting healthy increases in both order volumes and revenue. Some of December's larger value item purchases might be attributed to customers wanting to benefit from the 15% VAT rate before its return to 17.5% this month. Only time will tell either way.”

The research also highlighted shoppers were leaving their purchasing decisions until as late as possible with the busiest purchasing period being the first two weeks in December in comparison to the last week in November as experienced in 2008.

When asked what their top tips were for making the most from their online store in tough times the overall consensus for a successful Christmas trading was summarised by Darren Beaumont from, “Keep your site clean, simple and most of all provide clear information on deliveries, payments and contact details.”

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