E-commerce sales represented 20% of business turnover in 2013, up from 18% in 2012, and an increase of 6 percentage points from the 2008 estimate of 14%
Sales by Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) made up almost two-thirds (65%) of the value of total e-commerce sales in 2013, with the remainder (35%) being website sales
While 22% of businesses generated e-commerce sales, 51% of businesses made e-commerce purchases in 2013
95% of businesses had broadband Internet and 80% had a website in 2013
In 2013, 42% of businesses used social networks and 24% purchased cloud computing services
Estimates of the values of e-commerce and the adoption and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by UK businesses are provided in this release. The source of the information is the E-commerce Survey of UK Businesses.
Estimates of the levels of e-commerce are calculated using estimates of business turnover for the sectors covered by the E-commerce Survey of UK Businesses from the Annual Business Survey (ABS). The 2013 E-commerce Survey of UK Businesses selected approximately 7,850 UK businesses with 10 or more employees, in the manufacturing, production, construction, distribution and parts of the service sectors of the economy. It should be noted that no estimation is made in this release for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
There were changes to the measurement of e-commerce as part of the 2008 survey, which means that e-commerce estimates prior to 2008 are not comparable with those since 2008 (see Background Note 4). Therefore, the time series for e-commerce estimates in this release start at 2008. 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. This means that the available time series varies according to how long a particular question has been included in the survey.
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”.
A quality improvement to the estimates of the values of e-commerce sales was made for the 2011 release that was published in November 2012. Prior to the 2011 survey, estimates of the values of e-commerce sales had been calculated using ABS total business turnover data from the previous year. Since the 2011 survey it has been possible to use ABS data from the relevant survey year to derive estimates of e-commerce sales, which resulted in more accurate estimates. See Background Note 5 and an information note (29.7 Kb Pdf) published on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website for further details.
Estimates of the values of e-commerce sales are presented at current prices in this release.
Comparisons between four categorisations of businesses based on their size in terms of their number of employees are included within this statistical bulletin. The employment size bands used are 10 to 49, 50 to 249, 250 to 999 and 1,000 or more. This release shows that the largest businesses (1,000 or more employees) dominate e-commerce sales.
In 2013 there was still a large difference, as in previous years, in the proportion of large and small businesses that adopt emerging technologies. For example, cloud computing services were purchased by more than three times the proportion of large businesses compared with the smallest.
The usual revisions policy for this release is that estimates in the previous two years are subject to revision. However, some unusually large revisions of contributor data affecting the breakdown of the values of e-commerce sales between EDI and website sales have been applied back to 2009, the earliest period that was possible to revise.Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone Cecil Prescott on +44 (0)1633 456767.Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys
Total e-commerce sales comprise sales received over a website and sales received over Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). 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 a paper-based system.
In 2013, the estimated value of total e-commerce sales was £557 billion. This was an increase of £222 billion (66%) since the 2008 estimate of £335 billion.
The UK’s largest businesses (1,000 or more employees) continued to dominate e-commerce sales. While there are comparatively few businesses with 1,000 or more employees in the UK, these businesses made up just under half (46%) of all e-commerce sales in 2013.
EDI sales of £364 billion made up almost two thirds (65%) of the value of total e-commerce sales in 2013, with the remaining £193 billion (35%) being website sales. The proportion of businesses making e-commerce sales was 22% in 2013, an increase from 17% in 2009 (the earliest year when comparable records are available). In 2013, more businesses made website sales (18%) compared with EDI sales (6%), although the value of EDI sales is much greater than website sales.
The total e-commerce sales of £557 billion represented nearly 20% of business turnover, compared with 18% in 2012 and 14% in 2008.
The value of total e-commerce sales decreased between 2011 and 2012 due to a decrease in EDI sales over this period. This decrease needs to be treated with a degree of caution and could partly be explained as a consequence of sampling variability. See Sales over EDI for further details. Sampling variability is explained in more detail in the background notes of this release.
While 22% of businesses generated e-commerce sales, 51% of businesses made e-commerce purchases in 2013. Businesses have in the past, found it difficult to provide information on the value of their e-commerce purchases and these are therefore no longer measured in this release.
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The Wholesale and Manufacturing sectors reported the highest levels of e-commerce sales in 2013, of £219 billion and £147 billion respectively.
The Construction sector reported the highest percentage increase in total e-commerce sales in 2013, an increase of 50%, from £4 billion in 2012 to £6 billion in 2013. However this sector was the smallest in terms of the value of sales, making up only 1% of the total value of e-commerce sales.
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A comparable survey is run in all countries of the European Union (EU) and also in some non-EU countries. Eurostat plays a key 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.
Results published by Eurostat in relation to the 2012 survey showed the UK to be near the top of the EU table for the proportion of total sales that were derived from e-commerce.
In 2012, the UK reported 18% of total business turnover derived from e-commerce. This placed the UK in joint fifth position, in terms of the proportion of total turnover derived from e-commerce, when compared with other European countries. Ireland reported the highest proportion (31%), and Greece the lowest (2%).
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Sales over a website have seen steady growth in recent years, both in terms of the proportion of businesses using websites for sales, and the value of website sales. In 2009, 14% of businesses sold over a website, to a value of £111 billion. In 2013, 18% of businesses sold over a website, with sales of £193 billion, an increase in the value of sales of £82 billion (74%) since 2009.
The value of website sales, as a proportion of total business turnover, increased in 2013 to 7%, up from 6% in 2012 and 5% in 2009. The estimate of 7% of business turnover in 2013 relating to website sales is dominated by the largest businesses (1,000 or more employees), which contributed 4% of the value of total e-commerce sales for all businesses. The smallest businesses (10 to 49 employees) contributed only 1% to the estimate of total business turnover derived from website sales.
Sales to private customers of £101 billion made just over half (53%) of the total value of website sales in 2013, with the remaining £92 billion being made to businesses or public authorities (47%).
The largest businesses (1,000 or more employees) made the highest sales to private customers (£73 billion) in 2013, while businesses in the 250-999 sizeband made the highest sales to businesses or public authorities (£44 billion).
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The Wholesale sector has reported the highest value of website sales every year since 2008, reaching £60 billion in 2013, up from £25 billion in 2008. However the Retail sector reported the highest proportion of businesses making website sales (37%). The Accommodation and food services sector reported the highest percentage increase (223%) in the value of website sales since 2008, increasing from £3 billion to £8 billion. However this sector was the second smallest in terms of the absolute value of website sales.
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As specified earlier, EDI is the computer-to-computer exchange of data and documents in a standard electronic format. Sales over EDI are between businesses, whereas website sales are to businesses or public authorities and households. The value of EDI sales increased by £51 billion (16%), from £312 billion in 2012, to £364 billion in 2013. The increase was £99 billion (38%) since the 2009 estimate of £264 billion. EDI sales represented 13% of total business turnover in 2013.
The 2012 estimate of EDI sales has been revised down as a result of more accurate information from businesses that arose in the course of processing the 2013 survey. Therefore, the decrease between 2011 and 2012 is larger than first published. The decrease in the value of EDI sales between 2011 and 2012 needs to be treated with caution and could partly be explained as a consequence of sampling variability. Sampling variability is explained in more detail in the background notes of this release.
In 2013, relatively few businesses (6%) made sales over EDI, an increase since the 2012 estimate of 5%. While three times as many businesses sold over websites compared with those that sold over EDI, the value of EDI sales was almost double that of website sales, at £364 billion and £193 billion respectively.
Sales over EDI by industry sector
The Wholesale sector reported the largest EDI sales in 2013 (£159 billion). This was followed by the Manufacturing sector (£132 billion). The Wholesale sector also saw the largest increase of any sector in the value of EDI sales in 2013, up £33 billion (26%) from £126 billion in 2012 to £159 billion.
The Wholesale sector also reported the highest proportion of businesses making EDI sales (12%). The Information and communication sector reported the highest percentage increase (271%) in the value of EDI sales since 2008, increasing from £5 billion to £18 billion.
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In 2013, the vast majority of businesses had Internet access (95%). Of particular note, businesses in all of the larger size bands (50 or more employees) reported levels of Internet access above 99%. Since 2010, there has been little change in the proportion of businesses reporting Internet access.
As with households, as reported in the Internet Access Households and Individuals 2014 statistical bulletin, the majority of businesses have a fixed Internet connection, with 95% continuing to use fixed broadband (DSL or other fixed connection) in 2013. This was up from 93% in 2012 and 85% in 2008.
There was also an increase in the proportion of businesses using a mobile broadband (3G or 4G) connection, from 36% in 2009 to 65% in 2013.
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As high speed fibre optic broadband is rolled out across the UK by providers offering improved speeds for businesses and households, it is unsurprising that there has been a decline in the proportion of businesses using the slowest connection speeds (less than two megabits per second (Mbps)) since 2010. Only 4% of businesses reported speeds less than two Mbps in 2013 compared with 11% in 2010.
In 2013, although the most common connection speed remained between two and ten Mbps, with 34% of businesses reporting this speed, this was a decrease from the estimate of 47% in 2010.
Since 2010 there has been an increase in businesses using connection speeds of ten Mbps or more. The largest increase can been seen in businesses subscribing to broadband with a connection speed between 30 and 100 Mbps, which increased from 5% in 2010 to 15% in 2013. The proportion of businesses using superfast broadband, above 100 Mbps, has increased from 5% in 2010 to 8% in 2013.
The size of a business has an effect on the likely Internet connection speed a business will subscribe to. The most common connection speed for the smallest businesses (with 10 to 49 employees) was between two and ten Mbps (36%), In contrast, the largest businesses were most likely to use superfast broadband (44%).
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In 2013, 80% of businesses had a website. Virtually all of the largest businesses (with 1,000 or more employees) had a website (99%), while only 77% of the smallest businesses with 10 to 49 employees) reported having one. Since 2008, the proportion of the largest businesses with a website has changed little, from 98% in 2008 to 99% in 2013. Over the same period the proportion of the smallest businesses with a website increased from 71% to 77%.Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys
Cloud computing, or Internet storage space, is the use of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data. The use of cloud computing has become more common in recent years as an alternative to storing data on local servers or personal computers.
In 2013, 24% of businesses purchased a cloud computing service, including email, database hosting and file storage. Larger businesses were more likely to purchase cloud computing services than the smaller ones. While 65% of businesses with 1,000 or more employees purchased cloud computing services, only 21% of business with 10-49 employees did so. The service purchased the most was storage of files, with 17% of businesses reporting this. The lowest purchase of a cloud computing service was for computing capacity to run own software, with 5% of businesses reporting this.
The Information and communication sector purchased the largest amount of cloud computing services across all types of services surveyed, while the Accommodation and food services sector purchased the least. The two most common reasons reported for not purchasing cloud computing services over the Internet were insufficient knowledge or expertise (37%) followed by the risk of security breach or disclosure (33%).Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys
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