In 2014, e-commerce sales by businesses with 10 or more employees in the UK non-financial sector, were £573 billion, representing 20.1% of business turnover. This was up from £561 billion (19.8% of business turnover) in 2013. These estimates are in current prices
Sales made by Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) of £374 billion contributed 65% of the value of total e-commerce sales in 2014 for businesses with 10 or more employees, with the remaining £199 billion (35%) being website sales
While 19.5% of businesses with 10 or more employees generated website sales, 6.3% generated EDI sales in 2014
In 2014, 95.5% of businesses with 10 or more employees had fixed broadband internet access and 80.8% had a website
New coverage for micro-enterprises (businesses with less than 10 employees) has been introduced for 2014, and these estimates show that e-commerce sales by this business sizeband were £19.5 billion. This represented 4.1% of business turnover of micro-enterprises. Their e-commerce sales consisted of £17.5 billion of website sales and £2.0 billion of EDI sales
In 2014, 9.6% of micro-enterprises generated website sales, while only 0.9% generated EDI sales
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) definition of e-commerce is used in this statistical bulletin. An e-commerce transaction is defined as “the sale or purchase of goods or services, conducted over computer networks by methods specifically designed for the purpose of receiving or placing of orders”. It is important to note, under this definition, that “the goods or services are ordered by those methods, but the payment and the ultimate delivery of the goods or services do not have to be conducted online”.
These estimates are sourced primarily from the E-commerce Survey of UK Businesses, and supplemented with information from the Annual Business Survey (ABS). The 2014 E-commerce Survey of UK Businesses selected nearly 11,000 UK businesses, in the manufacturing, production, construction, distribution and parts of the service sectors of the economy. These statistics are presented on a current price basis, which reports prices as they were at the time of measurement and not adjusted for inflation.
This release will mainly focus on businesses with or more employees, broken down by the following sizebands: 10 to 49, 50 to 249, 250 to 999 and 1,000 or more. This release also contains new information on micro-enterprises (businesses with fewer than 10 employees) for the first time since 2004 (Background note 1 has more information).
Unless otherwise stated, data for 2014 in this release and comparisons with previous years are based on businesses with 10 or more employees (Background note 1 has more information).
Furthermore, approximately 40% of the survey questions change each year. This is to enable the survey to cover changes and developments in the use of ICT and e-commerce. Therefore the availability of time series varies according to how long a particular question has been included in the survey.
E-commerce estimates prior to 2008 are not directly comparable to recent years – due to changes to the measurement of e-commerce (Background note 4 has more information). Therefore, the time series for e-commerce estimates in this release start at 2008. The revisions policy for this release is that estimates in the previous two years are subject to revision.Back to table of contents
We are constantly aiming to improve this release and its associated commentary. We would welcome any feedback you might have and would be particularly interested in knowing how you make use of these data to inform your work. Please contact us via email: email@example.com or telephone Cecil Prescott on +44 (0)1633 456767.Back to table of contents
Total e-commerce sales comprise of sales received over a website and sales received over EDI. These 2 components are quite different types of activity, but both are considered as e-commerce due to their use of electronic communication for transactions:
website sales are sales over a website or “app” irrespective of the payment method
EDI is the computer-to-computer exchange of data and documents in a standard electronic format; EDI is a central part of e-commerce because it enables businesses to exchange information electronically much faster, more cheaply and more accurately than is possible using other methods
In 2014, the value of e-commerce sales by businesses was £573 billion (based on businesses with 10 or more employees). This was an increase, in current prices, of £239 billion since the 2008 estimate of £335 billion (as shown in Figure 1). The total e-commerce sales of £573 billion represented 20.1% of business turnover, compared with 19.8% in 2013 and 13.7% in 2008. This demonstrates the increasing importance of e-commerce in the economy.
The UK’s largest businesses (1,000 or more employees) continued to dominate e-commerce sales. They represent just 0.7% of the number of businesses with 10 or more employees but accounted for 48% of e-commerce sales in 2014.
EDI sales of £374 billion accounted for 65% of the value of total e-commerce sales in 2014, with the remaining £199 billion (35%) being website sales. The proportion of businesses making e-commerce sales was 22.9% in 2014, an increase from 17.1% in 2009 (the earliest year when comparable records are available). In 2014, more businesses made website sales (19.5%) compared with EDI sales (6.3%), although the value of EDI sales is much greater than website sales.
While 22.9% of businesses generated e-commerce sales, 50.6% of businesses made e-commerce purchases in 2014. Businesses have found it difficult to provide information on the value of their e-commerce purchases in the past therefore values of purchases are no longer measured in this release.
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The wholesale and manufacturing sectors reported the highest values of e-commerce sales in 2014, of £227 billion and £152 billion respectively. These values represented 40% and 26% of e-commerce sales respectively.
The retail sector reported the highest percentage increase in total e-commerce sales of businesses in 2014, an increase of 14% from £27 billion in 2013 to £31 billion in 2014. This sector was still relatively small, making up only 5.4% of the value of e-commerce sales in 2014 (Figure 2).
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Sales over a website have grown steadily in recent years, both in terms of the proportion of businesses using websites for sales, and the value of website sales. In 2014, 19.5% of businesses sold over a website, up from 14.0% in 2009. In terms of sales value, website sales reached £199 billion in 2014, up from £111 billion in 2009, or an 80% increase over the period (Figure 3).
In 2014, the value of website sales as a proportion of turnover was 7.0%, up from 6.5% in 2013 and 4.9% in 2009.
In 2014, 19.4% of UK businesses received orders over a website from customers in the UK, 8.6% from customers in other EU countries and 6.9% from customers from the rest of the world.
The value of sales to private customers in 2014 was £109 billion. The largest businesses (1,000 or more employees) made the highest sales to private customers at £72 billion in 2014. The value of sales to businesses or public authorities was £90 billion. Businesses with 250 to 999 employees made the highest sales to businesses or public authorities of £37 billion.Back to table of contents
Businesses in the wholesale sector generated the highest value of website sales every year since 2008, rising from £25 billion to £66 billion in 2014. The retail sector had the highest proportion of businesses with website sales (33.6%). The construction sector had the highest average annual growth rate (24%) between 2008 and 2014, with sales increasing from £0.4 billion to £1.5 billion, although this sector was the smallest in terms of the value of website sales in 2014 (Figure 4).
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In 2014, 19.4% of businesses received orders over a website from customers in the UK, 8.6% from customers in other EU countries and 6.9% from customers from the rest of the world. The retail sector had the highest proportion of e-commerce orders from customers in the UK at 33.6%, while the construction sector had the lowest at 5.1% (Figure 5).
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Sales over EDI are made to businesses, whereas website sales are made to businesses or public authorities and households. The value of EDI sales was £374 billion in 2014. This is a decrease of £3.3 billion (1%) since 2013, but an increase of £110 billion (42%) since the 2009 estimate of £264 billion. EDI sales represented 13.2% of business turnover in 2014.
In 2014, only 6.3% of businesses made sales over EDI, a slight increase on the 2013 estimate of 5.7%. There were 3 times as many businesses that sold over websites (19.5%) compared with those that sold over EDI, however, the value of EDI sales was almost double that of website sales at £374 billion and £199 billion respectively.Back to table of contents
The wholesale sector had the largest EDI sales in 2014 (£161 billion). This was followed by the manufacturing sector (£138 billion). The wholesale sector had the highest proportion of businesses making EDI sales (13.3%). The accommodation and food sector had the highest average annual growth rate (29%) in the value of EDI sales since 2008, with sales increasing from £0.5 billion to £2.3 billion in 2014, although this sector was the smallest in terms of EDI sales in 2014 (as shown in Figure 6).
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In 2014, the vast majority of businesses had internet access (95.8%), with little change since the 2010 estimate of 95.0%. All sizebands of businesses with 50 or more employees had levels of internet access above 99%.
As with household internet access, as reported in the Internet Access Households and Individuals 2015 statistical bulletin, the majority of businesses have a fixed internet connection, with 95.5% continuing to use fixed broadband (DSL or other fixed connection) in 2014. This was up from 94.9% in 2013 and 84.6% in 2008.Back to table of contents
The E-commerce and ICT Survey measures the maximum contracted download speed of businesses, in the following bands: less than 2Mbps (Megabits per second), 2Mbps or more but less than 10Mbps, 10Mbps or more but less than 30Mbps, 30Mbps or more but less than 100Mbps and 100Mbps or more.
As high speed fibre optic broadband is rolled out across the UK by providers, there has been an increase in the proportion of businesses using the fastest connection speeds of 30 Mbps or more. The proportion of businesses subscribing to broadband with a connection speed between 30 and 100 Mbps, increased from 5.0% in 2010 to 16.7% in 2014. The proportion of businesses using superfast broadband, above 100 Mbps, increased from 4.6% in 2010 to 8.2% in 2014. Only 6.5% of businesses had speeds less than 2 Mbps in 2014 compared with 10.8% in 2010.
In 2014, although the most common connection speed remained between 2 and 10 Mbps, with 28.4% of businesses having this speed, this was a decrease from 46.7% in 2010.
There is a relationship between the size of a business and its internet connection speed. While 29.8% of businesses with 10 to 49 employees had a connection speed between 2 and 10 Mbps, only 6.4% of businesses with 1,000 or more employees had this connection speed. In contrast, while 48.9% of the largest businesses used superfast broadband, only 6.0% of those with 10 to 49 employees had this connection speed (as shown in Figure 7).
The proportion of businesses with 30 Mbps or more but less than 100 Mbps has more than trebled from 5% in 2010 to 16.7% in 2014.
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In 2014, 80.8% of businesses had a website. Nearly all of the largest businesses (with 1,000 or more employees) had a website (97.5%), while only 77.8% of businesses with 10 to 49 employees had a website. Since 2008, the proportion of the largest businesses with a website remained almost unchanged at 97.5%. Over the same period the proportion of the businesses with 10 to 49 employees with a website increased from 70.6% to 77.8%.Back to table of contents
This release focuses on the most significant aspects of e-commerce and ICT activity. There are additional data tables on other aspects of ICT use by businesses in the tables associated with this release (537.5 Kb Excel sheet).Back to table of contents
A comparable survey is run in all countries of the European Union (EU) and also in some non-EU countries. Eurostat plays an important role in this and each year leads a process whereby the data requirements for the survey are reviewed and updated. Comparative data for EU countries can be found on the Eurostat website. On 5 October 2015 we published E-commerce in the UK and the European Union. This article summarised how e-commerce in the UK compares with other EU countries.Back to table of contents
Coverage of micro-enterprises has been introduced for the 2014 survey. This is the first survey period since 2004 that estimates for this group of businesses have been collected. Whereas the previous sections of this bulletin have been focussing on businesses with 10 or more employees, to enable comparisons with the results in previous years, the following results and commentary will provide an insight into the businesses with 0 to 9 employees and their impact on the overall results for all businesses covered by the survey.Back to table of contents
In 2014 micro-enterprises made total e-commerce sales of £19.5 billion. These consisted of £17.5 billion website sales and £2.0 billion EDI sales. Adding the e-commerce sales made by micro business to those made by businesses with 10 or more employees gives an overall value of e-commerce sales of £593 billion in 2014.
Including micro-enterprises’ sales with those made by businesses with 10 or more employees increases total website sales to £217 billion and EDI sales to £376 billion. Website sales of £17.5 billion made by micro-enterprises represented 8% of the value of website sales for all businesses. EDI sales of £2.0 billion made by micro-enterprises represented just 0.5% of the value of all EDI sales (Figure 8).
In 2014 website sales to private customers by all businesses were £121 billion. Businesses with 10 or more employees accounted for £109 billion of these sales, while micro-enterprises accounted for £12 billion. This value was higher than sales to private customers made by businesses with 10 to 49 employees and businesses with 50 to 249 employees, both at £11 billion. Website sales to businesses or public authorities were £95 billion in 2014 and micro-enterprises made just £5.6 billion of these sales.Back to table of contents
In 2014, 81.4% of micro-enterprises had internet access compared with 95.8% of businesses with 10 or more employees. The most common connection speed for micro-enterprises was 2 Mbps or more but less than 10 Mbps at 24.4%. The least common connection speed was 100 Mbps or more, used by just 4.7% of micro-enterprises.Back to table of contents
There appears to be a clear difference in the use of websites by micro-enterprises, compared with larger businesses. In 2014, 43.5% of micro-enterprises had a website, compared with 80.8% of businesses with 10 or more employees. All business sizebands above 10 employees had much higher rates of having a website than micro-enterprises.Back to table of contents
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