The biggest four online shopping markets in the world will double in size over the next three years as consumers buy increasing amounts of goods through the internet.
Online sales in the UK, US, Germany and China will grow by £320bn between now and 2018, expanding the size of the online market to £645bn, according to research from OC&C Strategy Consultants, PayPal and Google.
British shoppers already spend almost £1 in every £5 of their shopping via the internet and the new survey suggests that the online shopping revolution will continue.
The growth will be driven by the increasing power of smartphones – which is boosting mobile shopping – and retailers investing more in their digital operations.
In the UK, 59pc of online sales are now through smartphones or tablets, ahead of the 45pc in the US and 24pc in Germany.
The development of online shopping will boost overseas sales for the leading British retailers.
Chinese shoppers now purchase products online from British retailers almost as frequently as domestic shoppers do. British retailers are the most popular international brands for German shoppers, and the second most popular in the US and China.
Chinese shoppers spend on average 2.7 times more with UK retailers than domestic shoppers, while German consumers spend 1.7 times more.
Anita Balchandani, head of retail at OC&C, said: “The study has shown that UK retailers are some of the world’s most popular and are in a strong position to seize more opportunities abroad.
“But at the moment, the majority are only doing the basics to adequately serve foreign markets, for example, by offering international delivery on their UK website and working with partners to provide local returns addresses.”
Of the international shoppers buying British products, 40pc said they were attracted to the brands because they offered products that local retailers did not, a third highlighted pricing, and 29pc said that they trusted the quality of British goods.
The biggest concern for shoppers buying products from overseas retailers is data security, with the ability to return unwanted products also an issue.
Martijn Bertisen, sales director at Google UK, said: “The number of people with internet access is growing fast, with many new consumers skipping the desktop phase entirely and only experiencing the web through a smartphone.
“Our study shows that this is increasingly translating into mobile transactions and that a mobile-first or even mobile-only strategy is now imperative to international success in retail. UK retailers should be well positioned to lead this growth internationally, as UK consumers are already amongst the most mobile of all.”
The survey is based on search trends on Google and payment transactions through PayPal.