Multi-channel retailers outperforming pureplays in mobile devices, IMRG Capgemini finds

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High street/multi-channel retailers with a physical store presence delivered stronger growth in m-commerce sales during the first half of 2014 compared with their online-only counterparts, according to the latest research by IMRG and Capgemini.

The multi-channel merchants recorded 79% year-on-year growth in sales via smartphones and tablet devices in the period January to June this year, while the online-only/catalogue retailers saw annual growth reach 59% during the same period.

The multi-channel group also saw a steep rise in m-retail conversion rates in H1 2014 with the average rate rising 33%, while the latter group recorded a slight dip in conversion rates during the same period.

This suggests the multi-channel merchants’ investment in mobile optimisation and personalisation is paying off as more smartphone and tablet users are converting from browsers into buyers.

However, the data also reveals that mobile shoppers spend slightly more with pureplay online retailers (£82 per transaction), compared with an average of £80 for merchants with a physical store presence.

The average m-retail basket value has risen 8% year-to-date for the online-only retailers, while the multi-channel merchants recorded a 5% rise compared with the first half of 2013. A separate study by IMRG found two-thirds of retailers have a mobile-optimised website.

However, a higher proportion of high street/multi-channel retailers have optimised their site for mobile (74%), compared with 53% of online-only/catalogue merchants.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “While both the pureplay and multichannel merchants appear to be on a level playing field in terms of overall online growth, we do know that the latter group are ahead in terms of mobile adoption. Around three-quarters of multichannel merchants now have a mobile-optimised website, compared with just over half of online-only/catalogue brands.

“Inevitably, we are seeing an overall slowdown in m-retail as growth comes off a higher base. However, with an increasing number of consumers now using their mobile devices to browse and compare products while in-store, there is no doubt mobile will continue to be an integral part of retailers’ multichannel strategies.”

Alex Smith-Bingham, vice president, digital services leader, Capgemini, said: “The value of a fully optimised mobile platform cannot be overstated. In driving traffic, encouraging brand loyalty and most importantly, growing revenues, m-commerce is more important to the retail sector today than it has ever been.

“We saw earlier this year that a third of online retail sales are now made on a mobile device and the figure is only set to rise as the technology becomes increasingly more sophisticated. It would appear that the multichannel retailers, which have been investing in their mobile platforms, have a larger opportunity than their pureplay counterparts as mobile is not only an additional sales channel but can also drive greater engagement and sales in-store.”