With increasing competition for the pound in people’s pocket, finding ways to ensure more browsers become buyers is more important than ever.

Ian Gilmartin

Grocery has long led the way in online innovation, with supermarkets in particular often the first to introduce new technology. Ocado’s recent introduction of an app to use Amazon’s Alexa, and Amazon’s own foray into the grocery sector with its acquisition of Whole Foods Market, suggest that investment in technology innovation is likely to accelerate.

Our research into how retailers can increase conversion rates only supports this, with nearly a third of food and drink retailers planning to invest in online showrooms over the next five years, versus a quarter of other retailers. Grocers are also more likely to be investing in headline-grabbing delivery methods like drones (27% versus 14%) and chatbots (30% versus 20%).

This kind of innovative technology has an important place in the modern retailer’s arsenal, but our study also showed there are untapped digital opportunities of a far simpler nature. For example, over a quarter of consumers would be more likely to make a purchase if the website they are browsing is easy to navigate and the user experience straightforward. A simpler shopping experience is all it would take to boost sales from more than one in four customers.

Consumers are also demanding incentives to turn them from browsers to buyers. With inflation further tightening household purse strings, perks such as free delivery, loyalty schemes, and tailored offers or discounts are, unsurprisingly, popular.

So what does this mean for retailers? Our analysis shows £3.4bn of goods are left in virtual shopping baskets each year, and by going back to basics and getting the online offer right, UK retail could receive a £10.5bn boost over the next five years.

The UK consumer also loves to shop on the high street. The right approach now is to ensure we reach as many customers as possible through a truly omnichannel approach, with quality stores and a comprehensive, consumer-friendly online offering.

Ian Gilmartin is head of retail & wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking