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EDITORIAL How retailers must adapt as peak sales go mobile and social

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The online boom caused by the coronavirus pandemic has taken a distinctly mobile twist as Christmas approaches. Research by is predicting that UK consumers are set to spend around £22bn on mobile this Christmas – dwarfing for the first time the amount spent via PCs.

The study predicts that mobile will account for some 60% of Peak spending this year, significantly outstripping the 37% to be spend via PCs. Even tablets get nearly a quarter of online sales this Christmas, bringing in £9bn on their own.

The move to mobile has been gathering pace right across the pandemic, with mobile analysts App Annie suggesting that mobile up-take as a platform for commerce has shifted three or four years in just a few short months.

It’s latest figures suggest that Amazon is consistently in the global, US and UK top 10 app downloads across 2020 and point to just how more people than ever are looking to apps for entertainment, engagement and commerce.

This move to mobile, however, is having an interesting effect on retail, highlighting how the switch to mobile isn’t going to be one just of a change of platform, it has the potential to fundamentally change how shoppers shop.

Among the top 10 apps downloaded, social sites and quasi-social messaging sites dominate what consumers are looking at. Instagram, Tik Tok and Facebook all feature in global top 10s, according to App Annie’s data and it is becoming increasingly clear just how social media is starting to not only become the predominant place that mobile users head for entertainment and news, but also to shop.

According to the research by Stock Apps, the growth in online shopping has led to the acceleration of alternative shopping habits, particularly social commerce.

Growing at a 31.4% between 2020 and 2027, the global social commerce market is estimated to grow to $604.5 billion by 2027, says the company’s research.

Much of this growth is coming from China – and will continue to come from China as shoppers there have embraced social commerce with far greater alacrity than even US and UK shoppers – but the use of social for actual retail is a global phenomenon.

This is seeing many start-ups moving into markets with great agility to tap into this sudden and marked shift towards new ways to sell. One example is beauty company AGORA, which allows UGC make up posted to sell brands direct from their posts.

It is part of a growing shift to make more content types and the platforms on which they reside to become directly shoppable. Over the past few months we have seen a growing interest in social commerce shopping. We have also looked in depth at how shoppable video has become the hot potatoover lockdown.

While retailers and platforms are popping up all over the place to leverage this, so too are tech companies offering to deliver these kinds of directly shoppable content to all comers.

And retailers need to take note. The shift to mobile, the increasing use of social and video to sell is part of a wider change in what constitutes an ecommerce site. With retail in such a state of flux, embracing these new ways to sell is vital – otherwise a whole new crop of retail start-ups will be doing it for you.

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