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Mobile sales break the 20% of e-commerce barrier in Q1, finds IMRG

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There was a significant uplift in mobile sales in the first quarter of 2013, with 1 in 5 UK e-retail sales coming through a mobile device – smartphones and tablets – according to figures published by IMRG and Capgemini. The previous quarter saw mobile account for 15.4% of UK e-comm sales.

This surge is likely to have been influenced by the huge increase in tablet-owners following strong sales of the devices over Christmas. The percentage of e-retail visits via mobile devices also rose steeply, accounting for almost 1 in 3 (30%) of total visits in Q1 of 2013, up from 24% in the previous quarter.

Mobile has long been considered a key part of any retail strategy, yet the growth rates have been staggering nonetheless. Sales via mobile devices shot up from 0.9% in 2010 to 4% in 2011, and reached 12% of e-retail sales in 2012. Visits via mobile have risen from 2.6% in 2010 to 8.2% in 2011, reaching 21.3% of all e-retail visits in 2012.

Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG explains: “Mobile is clearly a game-changer for the UK e-retail industry, with m-retail sales increasing at more than double the levels we saw in the early 2000s when IMRG started tracking online sales. At the beginning of 2010 mobile sales accounted for just 0.4% of the UK e-retail market – within three years it has surged a staggering 5,000%, with m-retail now accounting for one in every 5 online purchases.

“With the continuing shift away from desktop to mobile internet use, it is inevitable we will see the latter platform outstrip desktop PCs as the preferred device for shopping online, and from the latest figures it is apparent this may be sooner than expected.”

Chris Webster, VP, Head of Retail Consulting and Technology at Capgemini adds: “In 2020 when we look back on the last ten years, we will undoubtedly see it as the ‘mobile decade’. In the first three years alone we have seen sales via mobile devices increase from nearly zero, to over 20% of all e-retail sales. However, we are only scratching the surface and over the next few years we will see the technology reveal its full potential.

“The mobile device will be the aggregator of all digital services, enabling the internet to recognise who we are and to give us access to an endless list of personal features. As we access all these services digitally, tickets, boarding passes, keys, payment and loyalty cards, and even passports, will become to us what typewriters are to my children; objects of intrigue and amusement.”

Sean McKee, Head of Ecommerce and Customer Services at Schuh says: “We have continued to see mobile device participation and sales power ahead in the first quarter of 2013, and believe that this will be the last quarter where desktop traffic is still the majority player. For us at least, a key tipping point is about to be reached.”

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