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Mobile visits to retail websites top PC for the first time, retailer figures suggest

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52% of traffic to retail websites now comes from mobile devices of one form or another, outstripping traditional desktop traffic for the first time, figures from IMRG and a series of retailers suggest. To give it context, in 2010 it was 3%.

According to IMRG , of this mobile device traffic, 6.5% came via smartphone and 29.5% via tablet during Q2.

And retailers themselves are seeing this phenomenon play out in their own numbers. Sean McKee, Head of E-commerce and Customer Services at Schuh says: “At Schuh mobile surged again in Q2, with smartphone visits exceeding desktop for the first time, total mobile device traffic averaging 62% and total mobile sales now running at 50%. Smartphone is still leading the way with heavy growth in visits, noticeably improving in geographies away from London, as Summer Sale and Back to School customers become increasingly used to the added convenience.”

McKee’s views are backed up by Gareth Jones, group retail and strategy director at Shop Direct, which saw a similar shift: “At Shop Direct, this quarter marked the first time that mobile devices accounted for 50% of our online sales – up from 47% the previous quarter and from just 35% the same time last year. This June, we also saw smartphone creep ahead of tablet as a sales channel for the first time.”

And John Lewis, which has been leading the curve in m-retail backs this up. Mark Lewis, Online Director at John Lewis, says: “We called John Lewis’s first ever ‘mobile Christmas’ in 2013 and we have continued to see customers shop via this channel during the first half of this year. Today, over half of the traffic to comes from mobile and tablet devices and we’ve also seen an increase in the conversion rate of traffic to sales.”

However, while more people are hitting retailer sites through mobile, bounce rates have grown. This is most likely because of the rise in mobile vistors: some may well get a poor experience or be newbies to m-retail and bounce before buying as they are experimenting.

Despite this, checkout abandonment is at its lowest ever, finds the IMRG, at just 27%. Again this is likely to have a direct correlation with the rise in mobile traffic. Many retailers, app and site designers and payments companies have worked very hard indeed to make the online and mobile checkout experience quick and easy – better in fact than you get in a real world shop.

Shop Direct’s Jones agrees: “As a device, the smartphone is the fastest growing sales channel for us, highlighting our customers’ growing confidence in transacting on their phones. Later this year, we plan to launch new transactional apps for each of our digital department store brands to capitalise on this trend and ensure we keep pace with our customers constantly changing shopping habits.”

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