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The Top Internet-Based Industries in the U.K.

There is no doubt that the Internet has revolutionised the global economy. Internet-based technologies have clearly contributed to the expansion of globalisation and have opened a wide range of previously inexistent opportunities for both business owners and consumers. In barely two decades, the global economy has been profoundly transformed by new and powerful technologies, and this has had an impact on a large number of industry sub-sectors. Internet-based industries are certainly alive and kicking in the United Kingdom, and the opportunities for development are far from exhausted. This post will look at the top Internet-based industries in the UK and their most recent performance.


E-commerce and Internet technologies go hand in hand. This sector has grown enormously over the past few years, and there are now dozens of online retailers that are clearly successful and generate millions of pounds in revenues every year. According to an article published by The Guardian, the British Internet industry contributes more than £100 billion to the country’s economy (accounting for nearly 9 per cent of the UK’s total GDP), and the sales figures keep rising. In fact, when per capita expenditure is taken into consideration, the UK’s e-commerce industry is the world’s largest. British consumers spend up to 5 times more shopping online than in store, and in 2013 the average UK shopper spent over £1,200 in online purchases.

E-commerce has survived the crash of the dot-com bubble and has particularly benefited from the development of mobile technologies. A recent Interactive Media in Retail Group / Capgemini report has shown that m-retail sales figures increased by a staggering 138 per cent in 2012, generating revenues that were in excess of £3 billion. The past year has seen such a large increase in m-commerce sales figures that online retailer John Lewis has gone as far as coining the expression “mobile Christmas”.

The booming sales do not only correspond to businesses that are exclusively run online, since traditional retailers have also jumped on the e-commerce wagon and are now seeing obvious benefits. Click and collect schemes have been incredibly successful, partly because they combine the best of both worlds. It can be said that UK consumers have the world at their fingertips thanks to e-commerce.

Online fashion retailers

Although online fashion retailing is part of e-commerce, this particular industry sub-sector has been so successful that we believe it deserves to have its own section. The most recent figures speak for themselves. In 2013, UK consumers spent more than £47 million in clothing and footwear, a number that is well above the European average, and 35 per cent of the total sales took place online. According to market researchers, the online fashion industry grew by more than 150 per cent between 2008 and 2011, which means that online retailers were being profitable even during the worst period of the recession.

Fashion giant Asos is one of the most clear examples of the potential of this industry. Total sales for 2013 were £753.8 million, and the company’s global market value is now estimated at £5.8 billion. The company’s chief executive has confirmed that in 2014, Asos’ sales could reach £1 billion. Another successful example is Net-a-Porter, which has reported annual revenues of £434 million.

Despite some common barriers faced by businesses in this industry (inconsistent sizing or having to use the post to return items), it is expected that by 2015, the online fashion industry in the United Kingdom will generate sales for the value of £6.9 billion. Although some analysts have expressed their concern about the possibility of this industry hitting a glass ceiling, for the time being the future looks bright for British online fashion retailers.

Digital marketing and SEO

The appearance of Google and other search engines has posed both challenges and opportunities for many industries. Every self-respecting business must now have a website, but that is not enough anymore. Increased competition among online-based businesses has brought about a need for effective marketing strategies, and this is in turn has prompted the rise of the digital marketing and SEO industries. Driving traffic and increasing the customer base have become key priorities for the vast majority of businesses, and digital media / SEO agencies are constantly diversifying their range of specialised services to cater to the rapidly changing needs of the market.

In the United Kingdom, the SEO sector alone is worth more than £500 million, and the content marketing industry is even further ahead, as its worth has been recently estimated at over £4 billion. If the trends experienced during the past five years are anything to go by, both sectors have untapped potential for growth and could play a crucial role in reshaping the UK’s economy.




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