August 20, 2021

The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world. While similar to the American market, there are some surprising differences. Our guide is going to show you how you can tap into this market and who your potential customers are.

Overview of United Kingdom

  • The UK is made of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
  • Its government is made of a monarchy and parliamentary government
  • Population: 67 million people
  • Capital: London with 9 million people
  • Home of the Loch Ness monster (Scotland)
  • Sports and literature are cultural claims to fame
  • Soccer (football), rugby, cricket, boxing, tennis
  • William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Robert Burns, J.K. Rowling
  • Wide variety of land types: mountains, forest, beaches
  • The UK has 13 British overseas territories
  • The UK was part of the EU until 2020
  • Home of Stonehenge (England)
  • Most of the UK population (83%) live in urban areas and 20% live in rural areas
  • Languages: English (98%), Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Welch, and Cornish
  • Big holidays include: New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter Monday, Orangemen’s Day, St. Andrew’s Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day
  • People are polite, private, punctual
  • Weather is unpredictable

Helpful Facts for E-Commerce in the UK

  • National Symbols: Lion (national animal), Union Jack (national flag), blue, white, and red (national colors)
  • Clothing is similar to other Western countries, teens tend to wear t-shirts, jeans, etc.
  • Love shopping from smartphones
  • The UK has 53 million social media users (77.9% of the total population)
  • The average number of social media accounts is 7
  • Top platforms are: YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat
  • 28% of people use social media to “research products to buy”

Market Potential

As mentioned before, the UK is a huge e-commerce market. In fact, it’s the 3rd largest economy in Europe! E-commerce sales have increased over the last 5 years, with 2015 having a total of 496.2 billion to 2019 having 693 billion in sales.

The majority of purchases are made within the UK, with a small percentage coming outside of the UK. Shoppers like the idea of supporting local businesses while avoiding large international shipping costs. If you already have a store dedicated to one country, you can create another specifically for the UK to avoid people assuming you’ll have large international fees.

A 2019 survey showed that 61% of shoppers in the UK wouldn’t finish a purchase because the shipping costs were too high. 3 out of 4 UK shoppers say they will add more to their cart to get to the free shipping threshold. Other reasons for cart abandonment include slow delivery time, unpleasant experience with the store, and even loyalty to their favorite postal carriers.

Other Important Market Facts

  • UK’s currency, the pound sterling, is one of the strongest currencies in the world
  • Retail responsible for around 8% of e-commerce sales
  • In 2020, 87% of UK households made an online purchase within a year, the highest rate in the country in 11 years
  • China, America, and Germany are the top 3 countries to buy from

What You Should Do Before Jumping into the UK Market

While you may be eager to dive into this new market, it’s important to have a solid foundation of research before you do. You need to learn about your customers, what’s popular, and how people like to shop.

No one market is going to be the same after all.

Learn about Your Customers

UK customers are very precise with their needs and wants and that reflects in their purchasing. There are 3 things your store has to have to secure UK customers: good customer service, personalization, and a mobile-friendly site.

Customer service may become the biggest driving factor in deciding where to buy from. You need to make sure you can fulfill their needs quickly and securely to get their business. Many surveys have shown that if UK shoppers don’t give second chances to stores that offer a less than great experience.

Luckily for you, GearLaunch offers wonderful multi-channel customer service so this is one less thing you have to worry about. But, make sure you are aware of how your customers feel at all times.

Personalization is also key to their shopping experience. You can do things like show recently viewed items and product recommendations for returning customers while offering a special discount code for new ones.

The final thing is that you need to make sure your store is mobile-friendly. In 2020, consumers spent 82 billion hours on shopping apps. Many find using a smartphone to make purchases more comfortable due to dedicated apps and “Buy Now” buttons throughout social media platforms.

Once again, GearLaunch already has you covered. All of our stores are built to be mobile-friendly!

Other Things to Note

  • People are big fans of sports and very passionate about it
  • While they may not agree with policies, many people in the UK love the royal family, seeing them more as hometown celebrities than political figures
  • Despite being a stereotype, people in the UK do love drinking tea
  • Loves multicultural food
Woman playing tennis about to hit the ball

Figure Out Top Selling Products in The UK and Popular Niches

Some of the most popular products to buy online are clothing, kitchen accessories, and electronics. This means products like apparel, phone cases, and drinkware are excellent choices to use in your new store.

Graph showing popular online products in the UK: clothes 55%, food 32%, books and magazines 29%, furniture, home accessories, or gardening products 28%, computers and accessories 24%, children's toys 22%, beauty and wellness products 22%, cleaning products 18%, electronics 18%, sport products 17%, grocery store food 13%, medicine 13%, physical copies of films 13%, physical copies of music 12%, bicycles and other types of transportation 8%

Popular Niches Include:

  • Sports
  • Pets
  • Health/ Fitness
  • Jokes about being British
  • Baking

Important Things to Note When Setting Up a Store for the UK

As mentioned before, the UK’s currency is the pound sterling. People tend to like using their debit/credit card or a digital wallet, like PayPal, the most. PayPal was the most used form of payment in 2019, 49% of shoppers used it. Other popular forms are:

Graph showing how UK people pay for online purchases: In 2019 it was card 53%, digital wallet 27%, cash 7%, direct debit 5%, bank transfer 5%, other 4%; in 2023, card 41%, digital wallet 33%, bank transfer 12%, cash 8%, direct debit 5%, other 2%

Also mentioned before, the languages in the UK are English (98%), Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Welch, and Cornish. An important thing to note is that UK English is different from American English. This includes spelling like colour (UK) versus color (US) to different words for the same thing.


  • UK people live in flats, while Americans live in apartments
  • UK people call bottoms trousers while Americans call them pants
  • UK people wear jumpers while Americans wear sweaters
  • UK people play football while Americans play soccer

Make sure to research spelling and terms when using text in your designs. Not only would it be spelled wrong, but it will be obvious that you didn’t pay attention to your audience.

Important Information for Running Ads in the UK

Social media ads will be your best friend while establishing yourself in the UK market. Because the population spends a lot of time on their phone, that means they spend a good amount of time on social media. Typically people in the UK have 7 different social media accounts.

Instagram is a great play to advertise your products. Around 83% of people use this platform to discover new products. 53% of people will follow brands if they like the content.

The average cost per click (CPC) for Facebook is $1.04 or 0.79 pounds. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, it’s safe to say its CPC is similar.

The best time to post are:

  • Facebook- 1-4 PM
  • Twitter- 12-1, 4-6 PM
  • Instagram- 11 AM- 1pm, 6-9 PM
  • Tik Tok- 3-6 PM

Ad Guidelines

Create some interesting product descriptions and CTAs to grab your audience’s attention. Make sure that the spelling and terminology are done correctly.

Unisex Lightweight Hoodie Sample Product Description:

Stay cozy no matter what the weather with this lightweight unisex hoodie. It features a crossover V at the neckline and a front pocket. It comes in sizes ranging from US small to US 2XL.

CTAs for Major Holidays

St. Patrick’s Day

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style with our special holiday collection!

Get some lucky discounts off {products}!

Orangemen’s Day

Happy Orangemen’s Day! Use the discount code “Orange” to get {percentage} off our products!

Boxing Day

Boxing Day just got better! Shop {product} and get {discount} today.

Don’t miss out! Get {discount} off {product} for a limited time only.

Scenic photo of bright green landscape with a stone wall and dirt road

Staying Current with the UK Market and Trends

Stay current with UK news and trends with trusted sites like The Guardian, The Independent, and Metro.