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4G offers £1.8bn boost to UK retailing industry, says eBay, but retailers must act now

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The arrival of universal 4G in Britain could boost the retail economy by around £1.8 billion over a year, according to new research revealed today by eBay. The boost represents a 113% year on year uplift in mobile shopping, compared to 2012.

This huge opportunity is being driven by changing consumer behaviour, with more than half (55%) of consumers using their devices more for shopping now than this time last year. Just under a third of all UK adults now use a smartphone for some aspect of their shopping journey – be it browsing, finding inspiration, price checking or buying; while around one in ten use a smartphone for making purchases.

The study, compiled by retail analysts Conlumino, reveals that the major frustrations for UK mobile shoppers are speed (50.3%) and reliability (49.6%). The arrival of universal 4G will help to break down barriers and increase consumers’ likelihood to shop via their smartphones or tablets.

With the industry at a crossroads, eBay is calling on retailers to get their businesses 4G-ready. Olivier Ropars, Senior Director of m-commerce, eBay Europe, explains: “Consumers today want convenience and speed. The arrival of universal 4G will bring with it a more immersive, instant and intimate shopping experience than ever before – putting the most exciting features of mobile retail as we know it into high definition. It won’t just turbo-charge the way we shop, it will truly give us the ability to shop anytime, anywhere. That means an extra £1.8 billion of consumer spending up for grabs. Retailers must act now and think about the virtual shop window, to turn this huge opportunity into an exciting reality.”

Neil Saunders, Director at Conlumino, adds: “Retailers today must take every chance to engage consumers, inspiring them and giving them every possible opportunity to buy and interact with their brands. An omnichannel approach is key to making this happen and with universal 4G on the horizon, retailers can’t afford to stand still.”

But it is not as simple as just getting 4G networks up and running, warn network operators. While the study explains that the faster service is expected to reduce barriers to mobile shopping caused by slow or unreliable internet access which can put off consumers from making purchases on smartphones, the gorvenment is also being nudged to get involved.

“The universal arrival of 4G will be the catalyst for making Britain truly digital,” says Feilim Mackle, Sales and Service Director, O2. “The greatest financial gains for businesses and the economy will be through the introduction of new digital products and services, whether they be services to make shopping easier or products that facilitate new ways of working. But to realise the true value of universal 4G, and the benefits it can bring to economic growth, both Government and business need to work together to drive the innovation needed to propel Britain forward.”

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