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Invest to keep pace with online evolution

David J Smith

For those of you reading this on your laptop or mobile device while sitting in front of EastEnders, beware. You are a statistic.

For those of you reading this on your laptop or mobile device while sitting in front of EastEnders, beware. You are a statistic.

Media watchdog Ofcom’s latest survey shows that on average we spend seven hours and five minutes engaging with digital media every day. To fit that in and earn a living we must be doing much of it concurrently.

This view of consumers placing digital media at the heart of their lives is reinforced by etail trade body IMRG’s own research conducted with The British Population Survey. Our latest Internet Access and Online Shopping in Britain report shows that more than half the UK population goes online at least once a day.

In just three years, the number logging on to social networks and blogging sites has grown fourfold to 49%.

What does this mean for retailers? Undoubtedly, online sales continue to grow. The IMRG/Capgemini Sales Index grew 14% in July - the highest monthly growth for July in three years - and UK online shoppers spent an estimated £5bn last month.

While I’d be the last person to talk down the massive opportunity that online represents, there is a danger that senior management at major multichannel businesses are being lulled into a false sense of security that they can sit back and just watch web sales roll in.

I’ve commiserated with a number of ecommerce managers who are struggling to secure investment, a challenge likely to recur in boardrooms across the country over the coming months. Pure-plays, which continue to be outperformed by the multichannel operators, will need to invest in innovation to stand out.

The growth of mobile activity means retailers need to ensure they have all bases covered. After all, their customers already have.

David Smith is managing director of etail trade body IMRG

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