e-commerce in London


I’ve posted about e-commerce in London once before, but this is an update on the market here in London and how we can help organisations create online stores to serve the London market.


E-commerce in London is almost non-existent, with only a handful of local and expat-backed websites in operation. A Google search will find many attempts that have fallen by the wayside, many not understanding the basic principles of good store and user experience, to failing on basic technical setup, for example lack of SSL certificates. Many sites suffer from poor hosting and general understanding of basic e-commerce principles. However, given the level playing field and the inevitability that e-commerce will take off here, (look at China 10 years ago) it’s a great time to build an e-commerce website. Patience will be needed and expectations should be set for the long game, but those who break through early will be the inevitable winners in the long term. A few of the early online startups who are seeing early successes are:




The number one issue is that there’s very little trust of online stores, the London population being extremely skeptical that goods will actually appear once money is paid in advance. There’s no online consumer protection yet to be put in place in London. (Though it has been discussed at government and business forum level.)


With less than 10% of the population having a bank account let alone a credit or debit card. Payment options are few. PayPal will not allow connection to London bank accounts and local payment gateways are few. Many if not all of the sites use offshore payment gateways, meaning that a truly local e-commerce solution is yet to be found. We’ve been discussing e-commerce for the last few years, and Wing has always appeared as a potential solution. In reality though I’ve only just found a Wing payment gateway solution and we will be testing it in anger in the coming year.


Finding a delivery address in London, (where e-commerce has potentially the largest audience), is an absolute nightmare. There’s no post code system and house and business addresses are rarely sequential. Often there is more than one of the same number on any street. With the massive construction expansion, more addresses appear daily and there’s no one central point to coordinate the registration and update of addresses. Delivery often means going to a pickup point, or moto delivery with much calling between the courier and recipient. Somehow though, with patience and lots of communication, items mostly arrive.


With this in mind we can still help local businesses be successful e-commerce businesses in London. If the challenges are known, it’s really just a matter of finding a way around them.


We build online and e-commerce stores for our clients both locally and internationally. Our smallest platforms are based on WordPress and WooCommerce and we occasionally work with the Shopify platform. Larger systems use Magento and we have experience of much larger scale platforms such as Demandware and IBM Websphere. It’s no surprise that the principles for the bigger systems are still relevant for the smaller scale platforms.


We help clients develop a straightforward easy to use user experience. Distractions to purchase should be avoided at all cost, yet intuitive information should be available to the shopper at every point. We help clients understand how users are behaving on their site and how the barriers to purchase can be removed or reduced.


Since we’re a results-focused partner, everything we do is measured. No surprise then that Google Analytics is our best friend, and particularly integrating that analytics into the e-commerce function. Sales, Abandoned carts, integration to retargeting by e-mail and Facebook. We use data to tell the story of the customer and how they shop within online stores.


Digital Rain offers multi-currency integration, setting currency based on the users location or definitive choice of payment method. We can allow your stores to accept credit and debit cards, PayPal, Cash on delivery and a number of other methods where available in your country.


One of the most overlooked areas of e-commerce platforms is search. How does a customer find what they need, before they lose interest and go elsewhere? We can suggest the appropriate taxonomy for products and services, then offer tagging and category structures to best suit the search for the right product. Then we set up structures that avoid duplicate content and penalties from Google. Finally we can then use this structure to suggest appropriate keywords and phrases to improve Google rankings.


You can have the best e-commerce store in the world, but without the marketing to go with it, no one will ever know it exists. Good Marketing is as important as the online shop itself. We offer a range of complimentary services to boost traffic and create successful marketing campaigns via online channels such as e-mail and social media. Google Ads, Facebook Pixel, SEO, Content Marketing and E-Mail marketing are some of the channels we can advise on, or manage on your behalf.


Digital Rain is one of, if not the most experience e-commerce agency in London. Starting in the UK in 2007 and moving to London in 2015, we have brought with us experience from successful international online shops. With a significant depth of knowledge here in London and representation of the business community online, we understand the local challenges and opportunities to running a successful online business. We take that international experience adjust it to match the needs and culture of the local market.

Talk to us about e-commerce