Online Shopping Channels in the UK - a Complete Overview

Around the world, the popularity of eCommerce is growing, with more and more people deciding to do their shopping using their laptop, or their mobile. The United Kingdom is no exception to that rule.

 

In 2019, it was stated that 82% of Brits shop online every month. This staggering statistic highlights the upward trend in online shopping in the UK, and the general eCommerce boom that is sweeping across the majority of the world. 

 

But what exactly is it that causes so many Brits to turn to online shopping? And is there a specific channel that customers gravitate towards?

 

uk-shopping-online-channels-guide


Why do people shop online?

 

Over recent years, more and more people are turning to the internet to shop. In fact, in 2018, as many as 26% of Brits bought online at least once a week, rising to 38% in 2019. But what are their main reasons for shopping online, as opposed to on the highstreet?

 

According to the Global Online Consumer report, the main reason people turned to online shopping was for convenience. 58% stated that they liked the option of being able to shop at any time of day, whilst another 40% believed that it saved them time. A further 27% of people also found it convenient that they could shop for everything in a single place.

 

Pricing was also a common reason for people to choose online shopping over the highstreet, with over half of the people questioned saying they enjoy being able to compare prices. A further 46% also stated that online sales, and generally better prices lead them to shop online.

 

Others stated their dislike of shopping on the highstreet as their reason for choosing eCommerce. The convenience of not going to the shops, avoiding crowds, and avoiding checkout queues were some of the reasons why it was the more preferable option.

 

Other reasons consumers stated as reasons for shopping online included:

  • Great variety
  • Free shipping
  • Easier to locate items
  • The ability to purchase products not sold in their country
  • Reduces stress
  • Easier to cancel orders
  • Reviews are readily available


reasons-why-people-shop-online

 

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Finding your perfect match 

 

Just like doing research for a product that’s best for you, finding the right channel can often leave you with a bunch of questions.

If you’d rather all your sales go through your own site, then a shopping cart like Shopify or BigCommerce might be a better option for you rather than selling on an additional channel.

While there’s usually no right and wrong answers, it is important to know what your desired goals are so you can be sure the channel you choose aligns with those.

 

First impressions 

When first browsing through a new channel consider your vertical and look for other merchants selling the same products as you. If you notice a lot of your direct competitors are using the site, it could be that you’re missing out.

On the other hand, if there aren’t many products like yours but you think it might be an untapped market then you may want to mull over if it’s worth experimenting with.

For example, if you’re selling shoes then Amazon and eBay are fine, but maybe not the best choice. In that case, a channel tailored for clothing may be your best bet.

 

Details and logistics 

Your budget also plays a big role when finding your ideal channel. Some charge higher selling fees than others, but that con could be offset by the channel’s popularity.

For example, Amazon’s fees are known to be high but often merchants are willing to cope with them knowing that their products will have greater visibility and therefore more chances of making a sale.

Another example is second-hand platform Vinted which doesn’t charge sellers any fees. But then it’s up to them to do more advertising to get traffic to their shop.

Therefore, it is important to consider the costs of each channel, and compare them to both what they offer in return, and what you can afford. Find out if the channel has monthly fees or if you'll be charged per product you sell instead. 

Apart from fees, how you want to handle your order fulfillment and shipping are important factors to consider as well. If you take care of it all yourself, it may be cheaper but cost shoppers more and consequently turn them away. It may be worth using the channel's own fulfillment process in the long run depending on what it costs you. 

 

Integration

Choose a channel that meets your needs and is comfortable for you to navigate. If you’re up for a challenge, then you can definitely go for a channel with a bigger learning curve.

However, if you’re needing something less time consuming check for things such as if any coding is needed, how long it takes to set up your store and what their customer support looks like.

Check out the channel’s reviews for a good outlook on what real sellers think. Sites like Trustpilot, Sitejabber, and Capterra (for related software) are good places to go for first hand accounts. Just be aware that sometimes sites like Trustpilot are a concentrated pool of negative feedback, but that can also be helpful to be fully aware of any negative aspects before you start.

 

 

What are the most popular channels in the UK?

 

eCommerce in the United Kingdom has seen a significant increase in popularity in recent years. Here are just some of the main players in the market at the moment:

 

 

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Choosing the best channel for your business 

 

Choosing the right channel to sell on will be part of determining your success as a merchant. Some channels are better for certain niches of business, whilst others will simply offer better pricing after all fees are paid. It may also be better to sell across multiple channels for larger businesses, whilst smaller businesses may be better off sticking to a single channel, at least initially. So what platform is the best option for your business? 

 

Let's take a look into the advantages and disadvantages of the main shopping channels in the UK.

 

Amazon

 

Summary

 

Amazon is the biggest eCommerce channel in the UK. It offers almost everything you can possibly think of, including its own range of bedding, and even grocery delivery. As a reputable worldwide brand, Amazon is highly trusted by buyers and sellers alike. It is also one of the first places most Brits go when buying online. However, this doesn’t make selling on Amazon easy. There is considerable competition for the majority of products, all vying for the coveted ‘Buy Box’.

 

Channel focus

Amazon casts a wide focus with the products it sells. You can find anything from toys, to groceries. This makes the platform a great starting point for many, and ideal for none specialty products.

 

Pricing/Fees

Pricing on Amazon isn’t necessarily straight forward, due to the 3 separate types of fees. Firstly you have to pay for your selling plan. This is free for the basic plan, and 25 pounds per month for the professional plan. On both plans, you will also have to pay referral fees. These are typically between 8-15% per sale, depending on your products category. Lastly, there is the optional fulfillment fee. This is charged if you choose to use the fulfillment by Amazon service, which packs and ships your order for you. You can calculate exactly how much it should cost you to sell on Amazon here. 

 

Ease of use and integration

Difficulty rating: Medium 

There’s a reason Amazon is so popular with merchants and shoppers alike. Their Seller Central interface is pretty straightforward and you won’t have to worry about upkeep like you would with your own site.


On the flip side, Amazon does have pretty strict requirements in order to get your products approved. And you'll also need to watch out for common errors a lot of merchants see. But having an optimised product feed does most of the heavy lifting for you and daily updates from DataFeedWatch keeps your listings fresh.

 

If you've already made up your mind about selling on Amazon - here's a complete step-by-step guide to starting your seller journey. 

 

Loyalty Programmes

Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t allow you to add your loyalty schemes when selling on the channel.

 

Language, currency, and location availability

As Amazon has separate websites for different nations, it isn’t possible to change the language and currency without going onto one of the sister websites. However, the website automatically detects your location to tell you which products can be shipped to your current area.

 

Platform trust and security

Amazon is a fully secure platform, and probably the most trusted eCommerce channel out there.

 

Contact and social media

Should you, or your customer have any issues or questions, Amazon is available to contact over social media, and LiveChat. Social media is much easier to access than LiveChat. However, once you do find a way to get through, Amazon are very responsive and helpful.

 

Payment options

Amazon offers the most common payment methods, accepting most forms of credit and debit cards. It also accepts GooglePay.

 

Returns and cancellations

Returns and cancellations are made easy with Amazon, and follow a strict procedure which protects both the buyer and seller. Amazon acts as a middle man between consumer and seller for any returns/cancellations that demand refunds, to ensure the fairest solution. You can also communicate with your consumer through email within Amazon.

 

Wish lists

Amazon allows customers to save items on a wish list, so that they can be purchased at a later date.

 

Is there an app/Is it mobile friendly?

Amazon has an app for both mobile and tablet. There is also a mobile-friendly version of the website. This makes browsing easy for consumers.

 

Review clarity 

Reviews are exceptionally easy to find, and search on Amazon. Customers will have no problems sharing their views on your products, and using reviews to decipher whether your brand is reliable. However, in order to receive reviews, you will have to click the ‘request a review’ button after an order is completed.

 

Images/Videos

Amazon has specific product image and video guidelines, that help to create an even playing field between vendors.

 

Sales prices, shipping, and taxes

Sales prices are clearly shown on Amazon, with the discount listed next to the original price, in a font colour that stands out. Taxes on Amazon UK are already included in the listed price, as is required by UK law. However, shipping costs are not added prior to checkout. They are listed alongside the product, but they are not added to the final sum until a customer goes to pay.

 

 

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eBay

 

Summary

 

eBay is another well known worldwide platform that also has a strong foothold in the UK. eBay, which originally started as an auction website, has since expanded to a fully-fledged marketplace, with both buy now and auction sales options. Although, as things stand eBay listings still rely on other merchants to sell products, as the brand offers none of their own.

 

If you can think of an item, it is probably for sale somewhere in the depths of eBay.

 

Channel focus

eBay offers a wide range of products, and has many 1 time sellers. It is also a common choice for people selling secondhand goods.

 

Pricing/Fees

eBay’s fees differ depending on whether you are making a private listing or a business listing. For a fee calculation, you can check the UK fee calculator

 

Private listings cost nothing, unless you list over 1000 items. For each listing over 1000 you are charged 35p. You will also pay 10% of the final transaction, and additional fees for any listing upgrades.

 

Business listings vary greatly depending on your subscription. Options include pay as you sell, a 25 pounds a month basic package, 69 pounds featured package, and a 399 pounds anchor package.

 

Ease of use and integration

Difficulty rating: Easy - Medium 

It takes some strategic planning and research of items similar to yours in order to successfully sell on eBay. It’s also important to become familiar with eBay’s policies and make sure you have the time to keep up with your listings. 

 

You can always start out by only listing within the 200 free items a month (depending on the category) until you have a better feel for how profitable it is for you. 

 

Loyalty Programmes

Unfortunately, you cannot add your own reward schemes to eBay at the moment. The site has its own reward scheme. However, that is not seller specific.

 

Language, currency, and location availability

Due to having multiple websites, eBay.co.uk is restricted to English, and the British Pound. Should you want to change location, you would be redirected to the eBay store for that country.

 

Platform trust and security

eBay is a secure and well regarded platform in the UK, and around the world. It also employs several secure policies to ensure both the buyer, and the seller remain safe. Transactions themselves are also protected by these policies.

 

Contact and social media

Contacting eBay is straightforward, and can be done through various online methods on their website, or social media.

 

Payment options

eBay utilises most main payment options, including:

 

  • Debit cards
  • Credit cards
  • PayPal
  • Cash
  • Bank transfers
  • Cheque
  • Online payment services (such as AllPay)


Returns and cancellations

Returns and cancellations are simple using eBay. You simply select the option from the drop down box within the orders section, and the process begins. eBay acts as a mediator between buyers and sellers for returns and cancellations, to make sure every transaction is as fair as possible for both parties.

 

Wish lists

eBay allows for items to be added to wish lists, and saved for later.

 

Is there an app/Is it mobile friendly?

eBay has both a mobile friendly website, and an app.

 

Review clarity 

Reviews are fairly clear and accessible on eBay. Buyers can also leave reviews for sellers, which also provides a great opportunity to give yourself a head start over competitors. Furthermore, reviews are mediated by eBay. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will receive unfair negative reviews.

 

Images/Videos

Images have specific parameters on eBay. This helps to ensure the competition is fair, and product listings are up to a certain standard. Unfortunately, you cannot add videos to the image section of the listings.

 

Sales prices, shipping, and taxes

eBay showcases items with sales price alongside regular price. This helps customers to see the discounted amount. It also states the discount in a percentage. 

 

Shipping is slightly more complex with eBay, as the platform offers several options, including collection. Therefore, shipping is added at a later stage, despite sometimes being stated prior anyway. However, this shouldn’t put customers off, as they can still often for free anyway.

 

As with all UK shopping, taxes are included into the item's price.

 

 

eBay-channel

 

 

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Etsy

 

Summary

 

Quirky Etsy is the place for smaller stores and individual sellers to make a name for themselves in the world of arts and crafts. Etsy is a supplier of unique products and gifts, giving an opportunity for artists, sculptures, and more to showcase and sell their craft.

 

Channel focus

Arts, Crafts, and Vintage products are all sold in abundance on Etsy.

 

Pricing/Fees

Etsy has very straightforward fees. You pay a 5% transaction fee, a 4% plus 30p processing fee, and a 4 pounds listing fee.

 

Ease of use and integration

Difficulty rating: Hard 

Selling on Etsy requires a high level of attention to detail. While on other channels, a simple high quality photo may suffice, you need to get a bit more creative on Etsy to fit in with other sellers.

 

Unless you sign up for a 3rd party management software, you'll need to upload all your products and data individually through the Etsy website. That being said, Etsy Plus does have valuable tools that will make marketing your items easier. 

 

Loyalty Programmes

Etsy does allow you to add your own loyalty programmes. 

 

Language, currency, and location availability

Etsy allows you to change the language, currency, and location, to any combination you wish. This creates a great flexibility for consumers, as they can see products available to be shipped from the UK to their location, in their language, and their ideal currency.

 

Platform trust and security

The channel is highly secure and trusted by customers around the world.

 

Contact and social media

Etsy is easy to contact through its own support teams, or social media.

 

Payment options

Etsy allows a wide variety of payment options, including:

 

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Etsy Gift Cards and Etsy Credits
  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay


Returns and cancellations

Returns and cancellations are done directly through the shop itself. This gives merchants the control of returns and cancellations. However, be aware that turning down a return/cancellation can lead to a potentially negative review.

 

Wish lists

Etsy has a wishlist for all your craft desires.

 

Is there an app/Is it mobile friendly?

Etsy has both an app, and a mobile friendly website.

 

Review clarity

Reviews are clear and easy to find on Etsy. 

 

Images/Videos

Etsy allows you to have a certain level of freedom with the angles of images. However, they still have to be within the requirements.

 

Sales prices, shipping, and taxes

Sales prices are shown alongside the standard price, to highlight the difference for customers. Shipping is added at the checkout, whilst taxes are already included in the items price.

 

 

etsy-UK-shopping-channel

 

 

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ASOS Marketplace


Summary

 

ASOS is one of the most popular clothing channels in the UK. The channel itself has two versions, the general store, and the marketplace. The marketplace is home to an abundance of clothing, shoes and accessories. Some are preowned, and some are new.

 

Selling on ASOS is very simple. Though the commission for selling is on the higher side.

 

Channel focus

ASOS marketplace focuses on selling clothing, accessories, and footwear.

 

Pricing/Fees

A simple 20% commission fee for every sale.

 

Ease of use and integration

Difficulty level: Easy if accepted 

Selling on ASOS Marketplace includes getting a personal account manager. So, once you have applied for a boutique and been accepted, managing your products is pretty straightforward.

 

In order to qualify, you need to either be selling your own designs or have true, high quality vintage items (year 2000 and before). That makes entry a bit more exclusive, but if you are accepted then shoppers will know you're a brand to be trusted.  

 

Loyalty Programmes

ASOS no longer has a loyalty scheme, after the failures of ASOS A-List.

 

Language, currency, and location availability

ASOS Marketplace is available in numerous currencies. You can also change the language, regardless of location. However, this is using Google Translator, so it is far from perfect.

 

Platform trust and security

ASOS is a trusted and secure platform.

 

Contact and social media

The brand is reachable by the standard contact channels, and is very responsive to social media inquiries. 

 

Payment options

ASOS has numerous payment choices, including:

 

  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • ApplePay
  • ClearPay
  • Klarna
  • PayPal


Returns and cancellations

Returns and cancellations are easily conducted through both the website and app. Simply go to the orders section, and you can instigate the process there.

 

Wish lists

ASOS uses a ‘love’ section rather than the traditionally named wish list. However, it serves the exact same purpose.

 

Is there an app/Is it mobile friendly?

ASOS has an app, and a mobile friendly website.

 

Review clarity

Reviews are available through the feedback section. Although, it is not always the easiest to find. You are required to click on the item first. 

 

Images/Videos

ASOS allows for images, 360 images, and videos all to be listed. However, images do have to be within certain parameters.

 

Sales prices, shipping, and taxes

Like all UK stores, taxes are already included in the item's price. Sales prices are shown alongside regular prices to highlight the difference to consumers. Shipping is added at checkout due to the different choices available. Standard shipping within the UK is free.

 

 

asos-marketplace-sell-online-UK

 

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ManoMano

 

Summary


French brand ManoMano is big across Europe, and burst onto the scene in the United Kingdom at the beginning of 2016. Specialising in DIY, home improvement, and gardening products, ManoMano currently has over 4 million products listed on its marketplace.


The site offers everything from plumbing equipment, to pet care equipment. This makes it ideal for most merchants looking to sell practical home equipment of almost any variety.


ManoMano is relatively new to the UK eCommerce scene, but the DIY platform is making sure its presence is felt. In fact, recently it has really pushed its entry into the UK with a TV advertising campaign.

 

Channel focus

Mano Mano focuses on DIY and home improvement products.

 

Pricing/Fees

ManoMano charges a monthly sellers fee of 35 euros.

 

Ease of use and integration

Difficulty Rating: Easy if accepted 

 

ManoMano is another channel that you need to apply for in order to start selling. So before you submit your request, you should make sure your catalog, price policy, and overall quality of your products is in good shape. Then you can take their short questionnaire.  

 

DataFeedWatch can provide channel integration with ManoMano UK (along with 4 other countries), so once you're accepted as a seller feed management and keeping your products updated is a breeze. 

 

Loyalty Programmes

At the moment, ManoMano does not allow you to add your own loyalty schemes.

 

Language, currency, and location availability

ManoMano is currently only available in pounds sterling, and euros. The currency, along with language changes depending on which of their European websites you are using. Therefore, neither customers or sellers have much control over currency, language, or location availability.

 

Platform trust and security

ManoMano is a trusted platform. It is highly secure for both buyers and sellers.

 

Contact and social media

You can contact Mano Mano through the contact centre on their website. Although, this is not necessarily the easiest to find as you have to battle through several FAQ’s first. Social media and LiveChat seem to be the easier options.

 

Payment options

Payment options on ManoMano are very limited at the moment. You can either pay via bank transfer, or via card (credit or debit).

 

Returns and cancellations

Returns and cancellations are conducted through the ‘my orders’ section. Customers have 14 days to cancel or return an order, regardless of their reasoning. 

 

Wish lists

As far as we know, ManoMano does not currently offer a wish list.

 

Is there an app/Is it mobile friendly?

ManoMano offers both a mobile-friendly website, and an app.

 

Review clarity 

Reviews are very easy to find on the platform, with customer ratings listed just below each product.

 

Images/Videos

ManoMano are not clear about their image/video requirements and policies. However, from viewing listings, it is abundantly clear that images should highlight, and focus on the product. It can be standalone, or in use. Furthermore, images need to be clear and not contain distracting features and labels.

 

Sales prices, shipping, and taxes

The sales price is listed alongside the regular price to allow customers a chance to compare. Taxes are included in the original price. Shipping/delivery cost is also listed alongside the price, which is a very useful feature.

 

 

UK-sales-channels-manomano-overview

 

 

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Fruugo

 

Summary

 

UK based, worldwide marketplace Fruugo is an ever growing presence in the British eCommerce game. Fruugo focuses on making cross border purchases easier, with retailers from around the world all selling on the same marketplace, which gives merchants a wide net of customers to sell to.

 

The brand also makes a number of currencies and languages available to make it easier for the customer to browse the platform.

 

Channel focus

Fruugo focuses on a wide range of products, from electronics to clothing.

 

Pricing/Fees

Fruugo states that it charges 15% of the shopper’s basket value (excluding VAT), along with a processing fee of 2.35% of the transaction value.

 

Ease of use and integration

Difficulty rating: Very Easy 

Fruugo makes it their mission to make selling online as easy as possible for all retailers. When you set up your account, you’ll get a dedicated manager to help when you need it.

In order to get started you’ll need to have GTINs for your products (or another unique identifier like EAN/UPC/ISBN), some form of direct integration to keep your products updated, and be able to sell internationally.

If you create your data feed with DataFeedWatch you will be able to easily fulfill those first two requirements. In addition, you may want to take a look at our Fruugo seller guide for a more comprehensive overview. 

 

Loyalty Programmes

As things stand, Fruugo does not offer the opportunity to add loyalty schemes.

 

Language, currency, and location availability

Fruugo is highly flexible, and allows you to change your language, currency, and location all individually. This gives customers a vital opportunity to personalise how they see listings, making it easier for them to shop. 

 

Fruugo’s wide range of languages sets them apart from the competition in this regard.

 

Platform trust and security

Fruugo is a secure and trusted platform.

 

Contact and social media

Fruugo offers customer service through social media, and their website.

 

Payment options

Payment options include:

 

  • Credit/debit card
  • PayPal
  • Klarna

 


Returns and cancellations

Returns and cancellations must be completed within 14 days of initiating the purchase. This can be done through the orders section.

 

Wish lists

Fruugo does not currently allow customers to add products to a ‘wish list’.

 

Is there an app/Is it mobile friendly?

Fruugo has an app, and a mobile-friendly website.

 

Review clarity 

Fruugo does not include reviews for their products. This can be a deterrent for many customers, so this should be taken into consideration.

Images/Videos

Fruugo recommends images of 400px x 400px or larger. It also requires images to be displayed over a white background. Videos are not currently accepted.

 

Sales prices, shipping, and taxes

Fruugo states sale price alongside standard price, to allow for comparison. It also states the shipping price once you click on a product. Taxes are already included in the standard price.

 

 

fruugo-shopping-channel

 

 

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Final thoughts

 

There is an ever-growing list of eCommerce channels to choose from as a merchant in the United Kingdom. And this can often seem quite overwhelming as a seller. However, you are not restricted to a single channel. Remember, getting the most out of selling online could mean trialing several channels and comparing their features. 

 

Just remember to keep in mind exactly what your business needs from a channel, and take your time to compare both features, and results. By doing this, you will be well on your way to selling success.dfw-demo

 

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