In a series of articles we look at major tech cities across the UK and find out how digital their retailers are. In cities full of talented digital people we expected to see a large proportion of their retailers trading online. This report looks at how digital Edinburgh is.
Being the capital of Scotland it is not surprising that Edinburgh has a thriving digital sector. With almost half of Scotland’s creative industries employees working in the city it is fair to say that Edinburgh is also the digital capital of the country. Edinburgh is home to games giant Rockstar North as well as housing Amazon’s software development centres. Microsoft also has offices in the city, one of only five of their UK locations.
Data from Market Location retail businesses in and around Edinburgh was analysed to find out how well they are engaging with digital. The analysis looked at whether their website offered e-commerce functionality, whether the website was designed to be viewed on mobile devices and how often the website has been shared on social media.
Fewer than 20% of the sites that were analysed had e-commeerce functionality. While e-commeerce may not be an option for some retailers there is still a big opportunity for 80% of the businesses to start selling online as British shoppers currently making 13.5% of their purchases online and the digital economy forecast to rise to £225bn by 2016.
Velo Ecosse are able to offer a wide range of cycling related products through their website as well as at their shop in central Edinburgh. The large amount of products are split into detailed categories to ensure that visitors to the website can quickly find the cycling accessories that they are looking for. Customers also have the ability to search for their favourite to help find the right product for them.
Next the working websites were analysed to see if they were designed for mobile devices. This test looked at whether the website was responsive and also whether there was a dedicated mobile website.
Around 25% of the Edinburgh retailers in our study have responsive websites that work on mobile phones and other devices. Mobile and tablet usage is rising quickly in the UK and is expected that UK retail mcommerce sales will increase its percentage of overall retail e-commeerce sales from 15% this year to 26.5% in 2017.
One retailer you might not expect to offer an e-commeerce option is Hann’s Aquatica and reptile world. Not only can you purchase live fish through their website but you can also do so efficiently on your mobile phone as the site is responsive. When the screen size reduces the menu changes to make it easier for those using small screen devices to browse the various fish and fish related products.
Finally, the websites were analysed to see how often they had been shared across social media. Sites were grouped by the number of Facebook Likes and Tweets on Twitter that they received.
Most of the Edinburgh shops have websites with some engagement from social media but there are still quite a lot that have no Facebook Likes or Tweets. Businesses who engage with their customers through social media can see an increase in both new and returning customers as well as increased customer loyalty.
Combing the mobile and social data for these sites shows that website owners who have sites that work on mobile devices and offer e-commeerce functionality tend to have more social shares. Around 7% of the sites in the sample had websites with both mobile and e-commeerce capabilities with these sites getting a much higher than average number of social shares.
The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa is perfectly placed for tourists looking to explore Edinburgh. It is also very popular on social media with over 3,000 Likes on Facebook. As well as using Facebook and Twitter the hotel has a well-used review functionality with over 250 detailed reviews giving a good idea of how previous guests have enjoyed their stay.
Edinburgh retailers have a good proportion of websites that enable their customers to make purchases online. Doing this hugely increases their potential customer base and also gives regular customers an alternative to visiting their shops. As with the other cities in the study though it is expected the number of retailers offering e-commerce will increase as more businesses see the advantages of selling online.