Mobile purchases to account for third of UK retailer e-commerce sales, eMarketer reports

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Purchases made via mobile devices will account for a rapidly growing share of UK retail ecommerce sales and are expected to contribute to strong growth this year, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates. In 2015, a third of all online sales in the UK will take place via smartphones and tablets; by 2019, that figure will rise to over 40%.

eMarketer estimates that UK retail ecommerce sales will rise 14.5% this year to reach £60.36bn ($99.39bn), driven by an improving economy, shoppers’ increasing usage of mobile devices for making purchases and expanded options for purchase delivery. Indeed, digital will be the main driver of overall retail sales growth, and as a consequence, its share of total retail sales will increase to 14.4% in 2015. This will place the UK atop the global rankings when it comes to ecommerce’s portion of total retail sales-No. 2 on the list will be China, with a 12.0% share, while the US will be well back at 7.1%.

Meanwhile, the growth trajectory for mcommerce sales is particularly steep, with a rise of 30.3% forecast this year. eMarketer predicts UK retail mcommerce sales will reach £19.92bn ($32.80bn) in 2015, and by 2019, that figure will climb to almost £37bn ($60.93bn).

“That mobile is playing an increasingly important role in the retail shopping habits of UK consumers is without question, be that via smartphone, phablet or tablet. What this demonstrates, though, is that digital shopping and buying long ago entered the mainstream for most UK consumers, and buying via mobile is just the next step. Indeed, device-agnostic buying, thanks to users’ familiarity with these various device types, is becoming the norm,” said Bill Fisher, analyst at eMarketer.

Tablets are particularly significant for UK m-commerce sales growth. As more consumers have embraced these devices for lean-back browsing of potential purchases, retailers have made greater efforts to make sure their tablet retail sites and apps are particularly rich and responsive.

This year, eMarketer predicts, tablet retail m-commerce sales will hit £13.25bn ($21.82bn), or 66.5% of UK retail m-commerce sales overall. That’s up from 2013, when tablets took a 60.5% share of retail mcommerce sales.

Commenting on the findings, Alf Saggese, MD EMEA, Moxie, said: “It is no surprise that m-commerce is continuing to grow, and now accounts for a larger proportion of total UK retail sales than ever before. Moxie’s own research has supported this, finding that four out of five consumers use smartphones to shop; and 72% of tablet owners make purchases from their devices on a weekly basis.

“Despite this, retailers have much room for improvement when providing customers with an intuitive mobile experience. While nearly every top UK retailer has a mobile-optimised website, increasingly in-demand features such as mobile chat are being overlooked in favour of less effective strategies such as static FAQs which interrupt the customer journey. If retailers truly want to capitalise on the growth of m-commerce, they’re going to need to adopt the mobile-ready tools to do so. This can range from a seamless deployment of mobile chat to proactive engagement technologies which offer information when consumers appear to be struggling with completing mobile transactions.”