Are UK E-retailers achieving their growth potential and delivering against constantly evolving customer needs? investigation of the performance of the Top 240 online retailers has been carried out…

In a rapidly growing market, it’s possible for success to come too easily. With ever-increasing sales masking the true level of performance. At the time of writing, the Office for National Statistics reports UK online spending is growing 15.6% year-on-year. It now amounts to £1.1 billion of spending each week – 16.4 pence of every pound spent by UK shoppers (excluding fuel). In simple terms, if you’re a digital retailer achieving 15% growth year-on-year, that’s the same as standing still. So, while in traditional retail even the most successful are forced to innovate or die, the UK’s leading e-retailers are able to take a more relaxed approach. Tweaking the dials, monitoring the competition, but safe in the knowledge that unless they seriously mess up, next month’s sales figures will bring them more good news and plaudits. This easy growth can be harmful. It can lead to complacency and failure to reach true potential. It can also hand competitors a chance to catch up – good news for the many hungry, growing e-retailers looking to supplant existing major players. Our report looks at the extent to which leading retailers are failing to achieve their true growth potential in the UK. Where are they letting customers down? What opportunities exist for those seeking to take advantage? Judging by our findings, there’s plenty of room for improvement and now is the time for up-and-coming retailers to take the initiative. At Tessellate.iT, we help such brands to seize opportunities. Through our Shared Success model (where retailers benefit from our best-advice and expertise for a share of increased profits rather than upfront fees) we are working in partnership to take on the current big-players, maximising the true potential of the growth opportunities within each market.

Summary of Findings

Page Speed

54% of e-retailers rated as poor, with sites taking over 9 seconds to load. 12% took 15 seconds or longer to load. Google estimates that these e-retailers will be losing a minimum of 29% of all potential visitors through load time alone. Only 2% rated as excellent, taking under 4 seconds to load and expected to experience low levels of potential visitor loss.

Onsite Experience

17% of top e-retailers fail to optimise onsite search with functions such as autocomplete, well-targeted product suggestions or relevant recommendations. Live chat functions are not well used by UK e-retailers, absent from 61% of leading sites despite the importance placed on such services by online shoppers. On average, it takes 3 steps to purchase from the UK’s leading sites. 29% of e-retailers have reduced this to 1 or 2-steps to gain extra advantage. Over 1 in ten e-retailers have 5 or more steps before purchase.

Social Media

Instagram and Facebook are playing an increasingly dominant role in the growing proportion of e-retail sales driven through social media (6% of the total). The average reach per retailer with an account is over a million for each channel (2.25 million for Instagram and 1.75 for Facebook).


Only 39% of leading e-retailers are making use of multi-channel options such as Amazon and eBay. Fewer than a third of e-retailers (31%) use Google Shopping tools to increase sales opportunities.

Payment Options

Almost one in five (19%) are failing to offer a payment choice other than a mainstream credit or debit card. PayPal is the most popular alternative payment method (71%) Only 8% allow vouchers (other than own-brand gift cards) as an alternative payment method. Over a third (38%) offer no option to pay with international currency, limiting their appeal and potential growth.


Given that the sample of e-retailers is picked from those considered our nation’s best, it’s surprising to see how many are failing to complete the checklist of best-practice options. But this is good news for fast-growing e-retailers looking for new opportunities. To gain an advantage in the market, they should be particularly focused on

  • Mobile site page load speeds – keeping every possible potential customer.
  • Maximising their reach through social media – especially Instagram and Facebook.
  • Exploring the options presented through multiple channels – e.g. eBay and Amazon.
  • Maximising traffic to be gained through the effective use of Google Shopping tools.
  • Optimising their onsite experience, especially through the best onsite search functions, live chat and navigation tools.
  • Offering as wide a range of delivery and payment options as possible, meeting the needs of all customers.
  • Using every possible method to upsell and cross-sell to customers, particularly harnessing the potential of pop-ups and overlays.

The key to achieving these goals is forming a good relationship with technology partners you can trust. Partners that will keep you up to date with the latest tools and techniques to maximise growth.