Shoppers more likely to purchase via a tablet versus a smart phone, data finds

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Sales through mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) hit £7.5bn in 2012, according to data from the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking.

Mobile device sales accounted for 12% of the £62.4bn spent at e-retail sites last year (estimated spend from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index excluding the travel sector). This value has tripled against 2011, when mobile device sales accounted for just 4% of e-retail spend.

Although this yearly growth is very strong, there was a considerable slowdown toward the end of 2012 both in terms of sales and visits. While mobile sales as a percentage of e-retail sales almost doubled between Q1 and Q4, from 8.2% to 15.4%, the signs halfway through the year were that it could reach as much as 20% by Q4.

It was a similar story for site visits via mobile devices. In 2011, 8% of visits were via a mobile device but this shot up to 21% in 2012. However, researchers had anticipated visits could reach as high as 30% by Q4; in the end it finished the year at 24%.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “2012 is regarded by many as the year mobile truly arrived and these figures certainly justify that claim. The IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking has shown sales via mobile devices have tripled in the space of a year, which is a trend supported by our separate m-Retail Index, where average growth in 2012 was 304%. While we are starting to see a levelling off in the growth of both sales and visits, one in eight sales and one in five visits were through mobile devices in 2012 and conversion rates continue to rise.”

Chris Webster, vice president, consumer products and retail, Capgemini, said: “The results leave very little doubt the value advancements in mobile technology have brought to the retail sector, however we have seen a clear division in the mobile channels, with shoppers four times more likely to purchase an item on a tablet device over a smart phone.

“The slowdown of sales made on a smart phone suggests there is an issue with the customer experience retailers are offering. If retailers are to reinvigorate the level of adoption, they must recognise the difference in the mobile channels and build specific customer experiences for the smart phone.”