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Front matter – Mobile

Read more of Paul Skeldon’s insight into the fast changing mobile channel and keep up to date with the significant news at


New figures from IMRG and Capgemini reveal a tipping point has been reached in online retail as the digitisation of the consumer has resulted in all online growth now coming from sales via mobile devices – smartphones and tablets. The percentage of online sales completed through a mobile device has doubled in the space of a year, according to two sets of figures from IMRG/Capgemini and Affiliate Window’s monthly benchmark, illustrating just how quickly the popularity of using mobile devices for online shopping has grown.

According to IMRG-Capgemini, in Q2 of 2012 the percentage stood at 11.6%, but by Q2 of 2013 it had exactly doubled to 23.2%. Over the same period the percentage of online retail site visits through mobile devices has also shot up sharply, from 21.1% in Q2 2012 to 34% in Q3 2013. Similarly, Affiliate Window’s monthly mobile benchmarking shows that in August 22.27% of sales were generated through mobile. However, conversion rates on mobile fell below 3% for the first time in the same month, the stats show.

IMRG and Capgemini, meanwhile, have been tracking sales through mobile devices for more than three years, during which time its penetration of online sales has grown by more than 2000%, with the penetration of online retail visits via mobile devices growing by 1100%. The switch in device types used for internet access appears to have had a knock-on effect for bounce rates, however. At the beginning of 2010 some 97% of retail site access was through a desktop. Over the subsequent three years, as mobile device access began to grow rapidly, the bounce rate rose from 21.7% in 2010 to 23.7% in 2011, before reaching 27% in 2012. Year to date in 2013, the bounce rate is 26%.

“There appears to be a correlation between the surge in mobile commerce over the past three years and the rise in visitor bounce rates on e-retail websites,” says Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG. “While consumers have generally become more confident in using their mobile devices as a shopping tool, the latest data suggests they have also become more demanding.” There was also a significant rise in click & collect sales in Q2, reaching a record high of 16% of online sales for multichannel retailers; this represents annual growth of 33%.


This year will see the UK’s first-ever mobile Christmas, with traffic from mobile phones and tablets expected to overtake visits from desktops this December 25. The forecast comes from John Lewis which says almost 50% of traffic to its website came from mobile last Christmas Day – and this year it expects it to pass that by 5pm on the day. Mark Lewis, Online Director at John Lewis, said: “Mobile is set to be the shining star of Christmas 2013. “Shopping is becoming much more of a social experience with people browsing, purchasing and sharing ideas with others using their mobile phones and tablets. We expect this to increase dramatically during the festive period as customers shop on the go and we anticipate that Christmas Day will be the tipping point for mobile.”

Mobile in figures:

  • Christmas Day 2012 saw mobile traffic peak at 9pm;
  • The busiest day on mobile last year was December 26, with more than 920,000 visits. More than a million visits are expected this Boxing Day – setting a new record;
  • Mobile now accounts for more than 40% of traffic to johnlewis. com, with traffic up over 115%, year on year;
  • The busiest time for mobile traffic is 10pm;
  • Fashion is the go-to category for mobile visitors, with 78% of total sales in the category now completed on a mobile device.

Lewis was speaking as the company launched its new transactional iPad app, which features content from the John Lewis magazine and catalogues. He said that while customers were more likely to shop for lower value items on mobile devices, some customers did buy big-ticket items. The most expensive product John Lewis has sold via mobile to date was a £7,000 television, said Lewis.


Smartphone-owning shoppers are making less frequent visits to stores while at the same time becoming more likely to buy online, according to a study which appears to detect evidence of significant migration to online shopping. The ‘Changing Trends in Multichannel Shopping and Browsing Preferences’ study from eDigital Research and Portaltech Reply , detects “a major shift in shopping and browsing behaviour”. Most smartphone owners still visit shops to buy, the research found – only 3% of the 684 respondents said they did not – but today they are doing so less often than they did three years ago. In June 2010, the study found 73% of smartphone owners who bought items in store were going into shops every week.

This April, however, that figure stood at 47%. Some sectors are seeing that change manifest itself in a still more marked way. While 60% of respondents to the study said they bought entertainment goods in store in 2010, today that figure stands at 35%. At the same time 62% have bought such products online and 10% have used a mobile site and 9% a mobile app. Changing behaviour can also be seen in less-likely categories, such as DIY and furniture. In 2010, 70% of shoppers had bought a DIY purchase in store. That’s now down to 45%. Some 33% said they had bought furniture from the high street in the past year compared to 64% three years ago. Mark Adams, Partner at Portaltech Reply, said: “Mobile is fast proving itself to be the glue in any multichannel strategy. The major shift in shopping and browsing behaviour is proof that the customer journey to a purchase has changed and that mobile is significant in this journey.

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