Cyber retailing in the UK: the potential of the internet as a retail channel

A myriad opinions has been propounded to explain how “cyberspace” can be exploited by commercial organisations. For the most part they are speculative, visionary or promotional. This work seeks to redress the balance by focusing on the utilisation of the Internet within the UK retail sector and examining its potential as a new retail channel. The paper presents an exploratory study using qualitative and quantitative methods: an online survey of retail Web activities followed by in-depth interviews. This approach provides a framework of current retail usage of the Internet and explores retailers’ perceptions of the inhibitors and facilitators to its development. It concludes with an emerging model that explains why current levels of retailing on the Internet are low and provides guidance for retailers wishing to increase their level of Internet activity.