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Over half of online sales now made through mobile devices

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

1 Mar 2016


New data from the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking report has revealed that online sales made through smartphones and tablets has exceeded 50 percent for the first time.

According to the figures, purchases through mobile devices accounted for 51 percent of UK online retail sales in the three months to January 2016, which marks a “substantial increase” on the 45 percent recorded int the previous quarter and up from the 40 percent reported in the same period a year earlier.

IMRG and Capgemini said the “leap” in mobile penetration was driven by increased confidence in using smartphones for online shopping. Sales growth through the devices rose sharply in 2015, while growth through tablets reached a record low in December 2015.

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 percent year-on-year for example – over 7x the rate of those via tablets.”

Sales via tablets accounted for 33 percent of sales and those by smartphone reached 18 percent, while sales through desktop computers or laptops accounted for 49 percent of sales.

Smartphones and tablets continue to grow sales and drive traffic to retailers

The figures also revealed that visits to retailer websites via mobile devices made up 66 percent of traffic in the three months, up from 63 percent in the previous quarter. This compares with 53 percent in the same period a year earlier.

Richard Tremellen, retail insight and data specialist at Capgemini, added: “This is a very significant milestone in the history of the online retail sector and reflects the work retailers have put into improving the customer experience on smartphones. Not only have mobile platforms become more secure, but the payment process is also much slicker. The result is smartphone conversion rates that are 70-80 percent higher than this time last year.”

Commenting on the figures, Mark Felix, director of online trade at John Lewis said: “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.”

Andy Harding, House of Fraser chief customer officer added: “We are not surprised by the growth of mobile devices reported. Mobile has been clearly identified as a priority area for House of Fraser, with over 40 percent of online sales coming from a mobile device last year and growing at a rate of over 100 percent year-on-year. The key to our success is the consistency of our customer centric approach providing a personalised shopping experience and by linking all our channels to market together.

“Being a truly multichannel retailer means having a seamless offline and online offer, and engaging with customers through mobile devices will continue to be an essential part of this. We expect to see continued growth in the online retail market, with mobile devices being a real driving force of this growth.”

Image: Danielle Wightman-Stone

House of Fraser
John Lewis
Online Sales