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E-commerce represents 20% of business turnover

E-commerce represents 20% of business turnover

E-commerce now accounts for 20 per cent of UK business turnover, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

This is higher than the EU average of 15 per cent and places the UK as the joint third highest in the EU with Hungary, behind the Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic.

This proportion has increased from 16 per cent in 2009, and raises questions for advisers about whether they should be making their services more digitally accessible.

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Analysis by the ONS said: “This could be due in part to a number of factors; such as UK government intitiatives to promote e-commerce and the ‘digital agenda’, alongside potential growth in other areas of the economy in the countries overtaken by Britain, resulting in the percentage of turnover accounted for specifically by e-commerce falling.

“The picture has changed somewhat since 2009, with the UK following a similar trend to the EU as a whole in terms of an increase in the proportion of e-commerce turnover in relation to total turnover.”

Despite these figures, the ONS data showed the proportion of UK businesses employing IT specialists was 24 per cent in 2013, which was above the EU average of 20 percent but below nine other countries.

A report by KPMG and the ABI last week called for innovation in the ways customers are helped to access advice and guidance.

It suggested that the development of new models such as digitally enabled, automated advice technology, known as ‘robo-advice’, to serve the mass market, would be a “critical challenge” for regulators to get to grips with.

Yvonne Braun, director of long-term savings policy at the ABI, said: “As this report sets out, providers, financial advisers and government have to address important ongoing issues such as the problem of poor consumer engagement and how innovation can be achieved in such a tightly regulated market place.”

Adviser view

Matthew Clark, director of Devon-based Seabrook Clark, said: “Our business is mostly face-to- face but we are finding that people want to be doing more online, so one of the things we are working on at the moment is making sure we have got a portal up and running which will allow people to go online and see valuations and documents.”