According to the inaugural Online Retail Monitor (ORM) report from The British Retail Consortium and Google, total retail-orientated searches are up by 23% in the first quarter of 2011, but the same searches on mobile have risen by 181% over the same period, pointing to how mobile retail is gathering momentum at an unprecedented pace.
Mobile searches accounted for 11% of total retail searches in the first quarter of 2011, with retail searches growing fastest for multi-channel retailers – those usually using stores and the internet. These merchants saw a rise of 42% year-on-year, compared with 19% for pure online retailers.
The number of overseas consumers searching for UK retailers grew by 27% in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same quarter a year earlier, while the number of UK consumers searching for overseas retailers grew by 21% in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same period a year earlier.
Central and Greater London were the source of 46% of total retail searches.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "Online is the fastest growing part of retailing. We need to better understand that development and what's driving it. Despite any short-term effects from weakening consumer confidence, what stands out here is the fundamental strength of the growth of online retailing. A 29 per cent increase in retail searches in a year is a huge increase in potential shoppers. The star performer is mobile. A three-fold increase reveals customers are taking to smartphone and tablet shopping very rapidly. The rise of mobile use to one in ten searches sends a valuable message to any forward-thinking retailer that doesn't yet have an m-commerce platform. The figures show, British retailers are very good at selling online and winning business from all parts of the world. What we need from politicians, UK and European, is a regulatory environment that helps that develop further."
Peter Fitzgerald, Retail Director, Google, said: "The launch of the Online Retail Monitor (ORM) marks a big step in understanding online consumer behaviour across retail categories. The report provides key insights into some important online trends, including the most popular products consumers are searching for and the varied rates at which multi-channel and pureplay retailers are growing online. We hope that it will provide retailers with an up to date snapshot of the ever-changing digital retail marketplace."
The ORM, which will be issued quarterly by the The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Google, measures the growth of online retail searches. Every time someone goes online and Googles a retail product that search is counted towards a total for the month and the quarter.
The ORM also categorises those searches in a number of ways, including:
• Ranking the most popular retail search terms
• Quantifying the growth of mobile retail searches
• Comparing the performance of online-only retailers with those also using stores
• Giving a geographical breakdown of online retail activity.
• Comparing cross border retail searches (customers searching from and to other countries)
Online is by far the fastest growing part of UK retailing - it is now responsible for nine per cent of all UK retail spending compared with less than four per cent in 2007 – but online retail data has not been issued in this way before.
The first ORM, covers January, February and March 2011.