Tipping point reached in e-retail, as mobile accounts for all online growth, Index finds

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New figures from IMRG and Capgemini reveal a tipping point has been reached in online retail as the digitisation of the consumer has resulted in all online growth now coming from sales via mobile devices (smartphones and tablets).

For the first time, IMRG and Capgemini have been able to strip out all mobile data from overall online retail sales, revealing that since Q1 2011, whilst total online retail has averaged around 15% growth, figures excluding mobile have seen a steady decline, flat-lining in Q2 2013. It also reveals that 23% of all online retail sales in Q2 2013 came from mobile devices. 

image003The findings represent a significant change in consumer behaviour, as UK online shoppers migrate from desktops and laptop computers to smartphones and tablet devices. During a roundtable session on Thursday, IMRG and Capgemini presented their findings to a host of leading UK retailers and discussed possible contributing factors to the emerging trend. Those include: 

  • Accessibility: with increasingly affordable contracts, more people and a wider demographic of consumers have access to smartphone technology than laptops
  • Convenience:  fast and easy to shop online – one click of the button and shoppers are online and browsing. The ease of using a tablet device means that shoppers can casually browse online whilst engaged in other activity, such as watching television –typically, visits via a tablet result in a higher number of pages per visit due to the leisurely nature of the interaction
  • Confidence: shoppers are becoming increasingly confident in m-retail, particularly as retailers improve their mobile sites and user experience

Interestingly, whilst tablet devices account for 85% of mobile sales year-to-date, smartphones have seen a greater rate of growth, year-on-year increasing 210% compared with 130% for tablets during Q2 2013 over Q2 2012. The retailers reported that in terms of defining mobile technology, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred as tablets become smaller, smartphones are getting larger and laptops can be converted to tablet devices.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, IMRG, said: “Online retail is a sector that sometimes receives a strong boost from supporting technology and mobile is certainly providing that at the moment. The latest findings, together with the continuing trend of triple-digit growth in mobile commerce, provide clear evidence of a culture change in digital shopping.  Smartphones and tablets offer the kind of experience the modern consumer wants – quick access, wherever and whenever they want it. Second screening in front of the TV has turned online shopping into a leisure activity that is fully compatible with our home entertainment lifestyles.”

Chris Webster, VP of consumer products and retail at Capgemini, said: “As e-retail becomes ubiquitous, the annual growth in the Index has been slowly declining – 18% in 2010, 16% in 2011 and 14% in 2012. However, similar to the impact the introduction of broadband had on the Index in 2006, the access to new technology and connectivity has supported an increase in the rate of growth once again.

 “The fact that more people are using mobile devices reflects the huge strides retailers have made in user experience and accessibility in m-retail sites.  However, we are still only scratching the surface of the ways we will use mobile devices to interact with digital services in our daily lives.  Finger print identification available on the latest smartphones will increase trust and personalisation of these digital services.”