Smartphone searches drive retail growth

UK and overseas shoppers increasingly picked up their smartphones to search for clothes and beauty products from UK retailers in the late spring and early summer, new data suggests.

The BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor suggests that the volume of searches from UK smartphones increased by 26% between April and June – the second quarter of 2017 – compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Search growth across all devices rose by 7% at the same time. Overseas shoppers, meanwhile, used mobile devices to search for beauty products – searches were up by 42% in the second quarter on a year earlier – and for clothing (+38%, year-on-year). The highest levels of interest came from Estonia, where mobile searches for UK retailers were up by 77%.

BRC [IRDX VBRC] chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The growth of UK retail searches online in the second quarter of 2017 remains unchanged on the previous year, although smartphones are increasingly becoming the dominant device for online browsing and therefore the main contributor to this growth. The increase in mobile search volumes over this period is consistent with the upward trend in online non-food sales growth.

“At home, the top trending searches by UK consumers were prompted by seasonal events and occasions. Beauty brands in particular continue to attract interest from overseas as well as UK consumers, which put the category firmly at the top of the growth rankings. It would appear that this could have translated to some extent into product sales, as health and beauty products ranked second highest in online sector performance over the three-month period.

“One in five pounds are now consistently spent online for non-food purchases at home, while the growth in mobile browsing from the EU demonstrates a stable appetite for UK brands from overseas consumers. Satisfying this interest from abroad through retailers’ digital offer, is crucial to go some way to offsetting the more discretionary spending habits of hard-pressed UK consumers.”

Martijn Bertisen, retail director, Google ??, said: “An unseasonably warm second quarter saw consumers increasingly searching from their smartphones whilst out and about. Retail-related smartphone searches in the UK grew 19% YoY. Overseas shoppers – from within the EU and beyond – continue to show increasing interest UK brands. In particular beauty and fashion brands are benefiting from an increase in consumer interest. Whilst back at home, we saw a 43% increase YoY in suncare searches as we endeavoured to protect ourselves from the heat.

“As consumer shopping journeys increasingly involve multiple touchpoints across digital and non-digital channels, we have seen UK retailers respond by protecting always-on presence across digital channels, and seriously invest in omnichannel measurement.”

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British Retail Consortium

British Retail Consortium


The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the lead trade association representing the whole range of retailers, from the large multiples and department stores through to independents, selling a wide selection of products through centre of town, out of town, rural and virtual stores. (more…)

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