How to use branding for success in the UK e-commerce market


Despite its cultural prevalence, the importance of branding is often underestimated by businesses. However, nowhere is it more important than the fast moving and fickle world of e-commerce, especially if you’re thinking about entering the UK e-commerce market for the first time.

The true meaning of branding

Branding is often conflated with the logo, the colour palette, the tone of voice and the fonts associated with a company. All of those elements are integral to building an overall image. However, before you get to that point, the roots of successful branding go far deeper.

At its root, branding is about knowing and connecting with your clients, and making sure that not just the product or service, but the actions surrounding them demonstrate the same values that your narrative conveys.

Why branding is more important than ever to e-commerce

By its very nature, e-commerce is fast paced, fast evolving and extremely fickle. Customers have such a wide variety of choice, literally at their fingertips, that if they can’t find what they want or need in one place, it’s the easiest thing in the world to look elsewhere.

That, coupled with the higher expectations consumers now have regarding online shopping experiences, and the consummate ease of a culture that’s been engaged with it for 20 years, means that this is a world that’s ripe with opportunity, but it’s also one where hard won customers can be lost in a flash.

Furthermore, the different values of the digitally native Generation Z have continued to alter the competitive environment that brands are trading in. This generation, void of brand loyalty, proactively choose brands whose actions are in line with their words and messaging. This is not a market who are interested in the cheapest option all the time, but the one that meets their values as well as their needs.

Why you want to be a success in the UK e-commerce market

The UK’s e-commerce market is one of the biggest opportunities in the world to introduce your business an engaged, proactive and digitally savvy market. To put that in context:

  • It’s estimated that there will be 2.05 billion global digital buyers in 2020.
  • Within that, the UK had the third largest e-commerce market in the world
  • By 2021, roughly 93% of UK internet users are expected to do online shopping, the highest online shopping penetration rate in Europe

*Stats from Statista

Where it’s easy to get it wrong

Of course, it goes without saying that you will not be the only person to realise that there’s an opportunity for your business in the UK. Consumers have abundant choice, and it’s a choice between people who do things well. For example, both Waitrose and Amazon offer excellent grocery delivery services. Waitrose has cornered the market in luxury, offering plastic free options where food is delivered in boxes that you empty, you can order as much or as little as you like, and you will always have impeccable customer service. But it takes two days to arrive.

Amazon on the other hand, has a £40 minimum food order, avoids plastic by delivering food in beautiful paper bags, and has the ability to deliver food on the same day that you order it. But it will never have Waitrose customer service, however polite their team are.

Both have their own niche, and they both make an effort to make sure their brand follows through from marketing to actions.  As a result, it’s important to know your market and have a clear plan to help you engage with them, repeatedly.

That deep dive into the mechanics of a company to make sure that a brand is built on firm foundations that are relevant to today’s market is something that requires experience and empathy as well as regular refinement.

It’s a challenge that our team of Fractional CMOs have met time and again across their careers in different sectors. By operating a ‘roundtable’ of support and advice to clients, we are able to bring relevant sector experience as well as the freshness of alternative industry approaches to your brand strategy.

It’s an investment at the start of your journey into the UK e-commerce market, that’s designed to reap dividends. By doing things right, you can hit the right notes with your target market and build a long term connection, whereas doing it wrong can mean disengaging for life.