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Overseas shoppers head for British retailers – online, and via mobile

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Overseas shoppers using smartphones and tablets to shop are getting more interested in buying from British retailers, new British Retail Consortium (BRC) research suggests. The news is a potential boost for traders looking to export, and underlines the importance of considering mobile devices in their planning.

The BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor for the fourth quarter of 2013 found a sharp rise in mobile searches for UK retailers originating from other markets.

The study focused on key export markets and found German smartphone searches for British retailers rose by 231% in the quarter, compared to the same period in the previous year, with tablet searches up by 130%. In France, smartphone searches rose by 89% and tablet by 78%, while Dutch searches were up by 95% over smartphones and 47% via tablets. Smartphone searches from the US rose by 95% and tablet by 35%.

Among the different sectors targeted, searches for UK department stores were up by 78% via smartphone and 46% via tablet, while apparel searches rose by 66% via smartphone and 41% via tablet. Also notable were beauty sales (+56%, smartphone; +51% tablet), home home and garden (53%/40%) and leisure (17%/22%).

But it’s not all one-way traffic: the number of UK consumers searching on smartphones for overseas retailers during the quarter rose by 28%, year-on-year.

“The UK is the world’s second biggest online retail exporter, beaten only by the USA,” said Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC . “These new BRC-Google figures show UK retailers are investing heavily in international online experiences, localised websites and faster delivery times to drive exports.”

She added that the BRC would work to make sure that positive results from emerging markets including the Russian Federation and Argentina were not “undermined by proposals in these countries for import taxes targeted against cross-border internet sales.”

Peter Fitzgerald, retail director, Google , said: “This Christmas mobile truly came into its own. Those retailers who invested in cross-device experiences – allowing their customers to easily find, buy and discover not matter where they are – reaped the rewards.”

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