E-commerce is set to defy the economic gloom by growing at six per cent over the next six years to reach a value of £56bn by 2014, according to new figures from Forrester Research.
Some 54 per cent of UK adults, or 28 million people, regularly shopped online in 2008, displaying increasingly mature behaviour such as cross-channel shopping, the report found.
However, companies hoping to cash in on a potential mine of revenue need to keep innovating and listening to their customers' increasingly sophisticated needs, said report author Victoria Bracewell Lewis.
Forrester explained that, although it can take up to three years to fully integrate a front-end site with back-end systems and supply chains, there are some easy steps retailers can take to increase sales. These include implementing Amazon-like cross-selling and up-selling functionality, and adding PayPal and other payment methods to harness spontaneous shoppers.
The option of shopping online and picking up in-store can also improve the customer experience, according to Bracewell Lewis.
"In some respects the [bricks and mortar] stores are at an advantage because they can offer offline capabilities here," she said. "But the pure-plays are still able to compete because they have excelled at investing in the channel in a way that means they can cater to their customer segments."
Bracewell Lewis also suggested that firms need to concentrate on making it easy for users to find products on their sites, as well as allowing price comparison on brands within their online stores.
"It makes sense and keeps people on your site, helping them find what they're looking for and giving them the tools to find the information and pricing they need," she concluded.
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