Mobile traffic and sales on UK retailer websites power ahead, new IBM research finds


Traffic to UK retail websites coming from mobile devices is up by over 60% in October 2013 compared to October 2012, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. It found the amount of sales coming from mobile devices has increased by 80% in the same period. This trend towards a greater proportion of sales from mobile devices has accelerated over the last two years, rising from almost 25% in October 2012. 

IBM believes the increase in traffic and sales from mobile sites will continue to grow at the current rates, and retailers and brands must pay attention. “The acceleration in the proportion of sales from mobile devices is significant,” said Chris Withers, head of Smarter Commerce for retail, Europe, IBM.

“The big trends driving mobile – which include the increase in adoption of tablets and smartphones, plus the optimisation of retailer digital sites for mobile devices – will continue to be strong in 2014, and retailers need to assess the split between investment in their .com platform and their mobile offerings.” 

The changing role of the retail website provides opportunities for retailers both in-store and online. As consumers access sites and interact with brands via always-connected and permanently at-hand smartphone devices, retailers can seize the opportunity to evolve their relationships with customers. 

Indeed, a study of 4,000 C-Suite executives released by IBM in October revealed the extent to which companies are opening up to customer input: 21 percent of CMOs say their organisations collaborate with customers today using social networks; 78% expect to do so in the next 3-5 years. 

“The findings highlight the need for retailers to invest in mobile-optimised websites. But in addition, mobile offers exciting opportunities to innovate the customer experience in-store.  With location awareness through a consumer’s mobile device, the store can become instrumented in the same way as a website today, offering marketers the ability to build location and context specific campaigns, and helping store colleagues to offer a better service,” said Withers. 

Comparing Oct 2012 vs. Oct 2013 in the UK, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark found: 

  • October YoY online retail sales increased by 8.7% 
  • Average order value is up by 3.8% YoY at £97.35 
  • Mobile % of site traffic is up by over 60% YoY, mobile % of sales is up over 80% YoY 
  • Smartphones drive more traffic than tablets (22.32% vs. 20.41%) but tablets drive nearly twice as many purchases than smartphones (20.19% vs. 11.3%) 
  • Another way to say this: of all mobile traffic, smartphone drive 52%, tablets drive 48% 
  • Tablet users spend more average time on site compared to smartphone users (6:00 vs 4:19) 
  • Mobile traffic by device: iPad 17.18%;  iPhone 13.41% 
  • Samsung accounts for 66% of all Android traffic (another way to look at it – Samsung accounts for or 7.12% of all online traffic) 
  • Social % of site referral traffic is 0.53% with Facebook driving the majority of referrals to retail sites
  • Pinterest referral average order value is 7.2% higher than Facebook referral. However, Facebook orders convert at twice the rate of Pinterest orders


For more information or to download a copy of the 2013 UK Christmas Readiness report for retailers: