One such example is Bristol-based Bookbarn International, which specialises in second-hand and antiquarian books. The company launched as a physical book store back in 2000, but in 2008 started selling on a website and through eBay as well. Today, it has an annual turnover of £1.2m, with up to 85 per cent of this coming from its online business alone.
According to Startup Britain, a remarkable 80 new businesses were born every single hour in the UK last year, with 325,000 new companies registering between January and June alone. These are incredible figures and I am incredibly proud to say that my e-commerce venture can be included in them. I am also incredibly proud to say that I. Am. Female.
But in the UK, it's not just high profile dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday that are driving sales in the run up to Christmas: last year, Mondays proved the busiest online shopping days of the week (post-Cyber Monday) ahead of Christmas Day. After all, who doesn't fancy a touch of festive retail therapy to brighten up a dreary Monday morning?
We don't need to look too hard to uncover some of the motivation between these frequent m-shopping trips. Social media feeds are awash with inspirational images and every product imaginable. This means that every day, shoppers are flicking through catalogues-worth of products, styled and validated by their friends as well as an army of digital influencers that comprise their online network.
Ask most people what their overriding feeling is these first few days back in the office after Christmas and their response is unlikely to be 'optimism'. As Britain collectively shakes off its hangover, heads to the gym and wakes up in darkness, we can all be forgiven for a bout of the January blues.
I have an alarm clock that works out the best time to wake me up so I don't destroy it, I have a program running on my desktop that automatically adjusts the redness in my screen to prevent glare at night. Yet I have an inbox stuffed full of messages that haven't changed since the days of Hotmail and AOL.
Online retail is easy and convenient, but shopping is also a social experience and this is where 'bricks and mortar' retailing continues to excel. A visit to a physical store can mean time with family and friends. And there are many purchases that people like to make, where they are able to see, touch and even smell products before making a choice.
Year by year more parts of our lives are becoming impacted and influenced by technology. It has made us more connected than ever but arguably also less social (in the real sense of the word). But love or loathe 'this sort of' technology it is fair to say that most of us couldn't now live without it without taking a serious drop in our standard of living.
You ask 10 people and you will get 10 different views on the health of the high street. Then you will get others asking if the high street is still relevant any more. It's not that the debate is polarised, as much as the fact that the changes that have hit retail have been so profound and have happened in such a short space of time that we struggle to make sense of them. Data and statistics only cloud the issue further.
Only about 25 per cent of online consumers impulse buy - a lot less than when they are in store. It's clear that online stores are currently missing a significant revenue opportunity. Rather than trying to define future purchases based on previous consumer behaviour, ambient ecommerce focuses on the 'here and now'.