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Mobile online sales in Britain double to reach 23 percent: report

September 5, 2013

Mobile traffic is growing quickly for British retailers such as River Island

The percentage of online sales completed through a smartphone or tablet in Britain has doubled in the past 12 months with mobile sales now accounting for 23 percent of online sales, according to a new report from IMRG and Capgemini.

During the same period, the percentage of online retail site traffic from mobile devices also jumped, from 21.1 percent in the second quarter of 2012 to 34 percent during the same period this year. The report also found that mobile’s growth is affecting online bounce rates as well as click-and-collect sales for multichannel retailers.

“Over the last three years, we’ve seen mobile, smartphone and tablets sales grow from 0.4 percent of online sales in Q1 2010 to 23 percent in Q2 2013,” said Andy Mulcahy, editor at IMRG, London.

“That the channel continues to grow strongly will come as little surprise to many retailers however; the shift in traffic via mobile has been clear to see for anyone reviewing their site analytics,” he said.

“Mobile is an extremely important part of the retail mix, but each retailer will see slightly different behavior depending on their customer demographic and proposition.”

Bounce rates increase
The jump in mobile sales and traffic is even more dramatic over the course of the past three years, with online sales having grown by more than 2,000 percent and mobile traffic up by 1,100 percent.

However, the growing use of mobile devices to access the Internet appears to be having an effect on bounce rates, according to the report.

At the beginning of 2010, more than 97 percent of retail site access was through a desktop. In the subsequent three years, as mobile device access began to grow rapidly, the bounce rate rose from 21.7 percent in 2010 to 23.7 percent in 2011 and 27 percent in 2012. So far this year, the bounce rate is 26 percent.

The numbers suggest that while users have become more confident in using their mobile devices as a shopping tool, they are also becoming more demanding and expecting strong mobile user experiences from the brands they engage with via mobile.

A similar growth in mobile search also points to how users are increasingly comparing products and pricing across several brands via their devices.

For merchants, these numbers underscore the need to provide an engaging and relevant experience for customers across all channels in order to drive higher conversion rates and an increase in customer loyalty.

Click and collect
The report also found a significant rise in click and collect sales, or the ability to place an order online and then pick up a purchase from a local bricks-and-mortar location, during the second-quarter, reaching a record high of 16 percent of online sales for multichannel retailers. This represents annual growth of 33 percent compared with the 12 percent penetration recorded in the second-quarter of last year.

The correlation between mobile ordering and location flexible collection points to how mobile shopping is impacting consumer behavior.

“Over a three-year period, we’ve seen bounce rates go up, which is where someone lands on a retail site but leaves without taking any further action/going to any other pages,” Mr. Mulcahy said.

“This is perhaps understandable as the devices used for access, and potential contexts of that access, have changed, but the same cannot be said for basket and checkout abandonment rates; these have not been affected by the shift, the rates have only given a few percent over that period,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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