Over half of all online sales now on mobile devices

The number of UK online sales made through a mobile device has topped the 50 per cent mark for the first time, which has been heralded as “a significant milestone in the history of the online retail sector”.

What’s more, visits to retail websites on mobile devices made up two-thirds (66 per cent) of traffic in Q4. Increasing from 63 per cent in Q3 and 53 per cent in the same period the year before.

Data from e-retail experts IMRG Capgemini’s Quarterly Benchmarking report revealed that, in the quarter from November 2015 to January 2016, smartphones and tablets accounted for 51 per cent of UK online retail sales. This was up from 45 per cent in Q3 and 40 per cent in Q4 the previous year.

Desktops and laptops still dominated the percentage share of online sales with 49 per cent. But tablets (33 per cent) and smartphones (18 per cent) combined had that beaten with 51 per cent.

IMRG said this mobile growth was fuelled by increased user confidence in online shopping on smartphones. Growth for mobiles rose sharply in 2015, while tablets saw a record low in December 2015.

Said IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner: “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.

“In 2014, the rate of growth via smartphones appeared to be slowing down, but in 2015 it shot up again. The main reason for this is likely to be related to the design trend for larger screens, but many mobile retail sites have improved significantly to give a far better experience and inspire confidence in shoppers. There is also the fact that we increasingly use our smartphones for managing so much of our lives – it’s only logical that completing purchases on retail sites would gravitate over to these devices as well.”

Capgemini retail insight and data specialist Richard Tremellen said: “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 to 80 per cent higher than this time last year.

“The figures illustrate that retailers have well and truly embraced the potential that the mobile channel can offer in reaching customers, and given that mobile advertising and geo-location marketing are yet to hit maturity, you feel there is more growth to come.”