The percentage of UK online retail sales made through mobile devices – including smartphones and tablets – exceeded 50 per cent for the first time in Q4 2015.
The data from IMRG found that smartphones and tablets accounted for 51 per cent of UK online retail sales in Q4, which was a substantial increase on the 45 per cent recorded in Q3 – and up from 40 per cent in Q4 last year.
49 per cent of UK online sales are made using desktops and laptops, 33 per cent via tablets and 18 per cent use made using smartphones.
These findings could be concerning for the UK independent retail sector in particular. The number of retail and reseller sites we’ve seen from indies with poor layout, navigation and design not optimised for mobile is worrying.
It’s a trend that should give those retailers a strong reason to upgrade their websites and bring them into the 21st Century.
IMRG says the leap in mobile penetration appears to be being driven by increased confidence in using smartphones for online shopping.
Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “Smartphones have played an important role in the overall online shopping process for a long time – often used for research and comparison on the go – but over the past year they have really started to become a major component of the checkout process too and that is what is driving this leap in mobile penetration.
"In January, sales via smartphones grew 95.6 per cent year-on-year for example – over seven times the rate of those via tablets."
Mark Felix, director of online trade at John Lewis, added: “Mobile is undoubtedly our fastest growing sales channel. In 2015, convenience remained the number one priority for customers and mobile gives them the opportunity to shop whenever and wherever they wish.
"Importantly though, mobile is becoming the glue between our shops and online. Increasingly, customers are using the two channels combined and for example use their mobiles to check ratings and reviews and further product information when in store."
Sam Ambrose, senior consultant at digital commerce consultancy Salmon, says it’s not easy.
"Our own research has found that 23 per cent of companies struggle with integrating traditional sales channels with mobile commerce channels," he said. "Bringing the High Street online in a creative and functional way is no mean feat – consumers respect and return to brands that deliver an outstanding level of service and make our busy lives easier, fitting in rather than adding on.
"The challenge for retailers and indeed all multichannel businesses is that, consumers still want a personalised experience. The brands that really win in mobile are those which can combine automated functionality with High Street-style personal service."
That means you, indies. Come on, get your sites in gear and give your customers another reason why they should come to you.
Image source: Shopping on smartphone (Shutterstock)