The proportion of UK shoppers using their phones to make purchases online during the lead up to Christmas is up a massive 44% compared to last year, with predictions that mobile sales will rise to more than 50% during the Black Friday weekend – the unofficial start of the festive shopping period.
According to consumer behaviour data from Ve Global (Ve), the growth in sales is followed by a further 6% increase in browsing via a smartphone. This places mobile as the dominant channel for browsing in the UK - registering more sessions (53%) than desktop PCs and tablets combined.
The analysis also revealed a significant reduction in mobile “bounce” rates – where users would often leave a website almost immediately after arriving – which are down 10% on 2017.
Ve, which develops eCommerce technologies for retailers such as Clare’s Accessories and The Body Shop, examimed 50 million online browser sessions across 3,000 retail websites, during the third quarter (1 July – 30 September) of 2017 and the same period this year.
“UK retailers are beginning to meet the mobile-first expectations of the modern online shopper and in good time, given the continued demise of the desktop PC and even the tablet – all of which are fading towards irrelevance as the mobile experience improves,” says Ve CEO David Marrinan-Hayes.
“This bodes very well for brands in the run-up to Black Friday and the whole of the crucial ‘Golden Quarter’, as they look to capitalise on the annual pre-December rush,” he continues. “It also presents marketers with an opportunity to engage the always-on customer; a key demographic who carry and regularly check their mobile devices.”
“The main challenge for brands is to develop and deploy mobile experiences that are relevant and bring value to each potential customer,” Marrinan-Hayes says. “Done correctly, personalised messages and content delivered direct-to-mobile via SMS or Web Push Notifications, can be welcome interruptions and lead a customer into making a purchase.”
Ve is expecting a further uptick in mobile sales during the Black Friday weekend which is generally regarded as the start of the Christmas shopping season. Last year 36% of UK retail purchases over the Black Friday weekend occurred via a smartphone, up 12% on the Q3 average. An equivalent increase this year would put the mobile share of online sales at an unprecedented 52%.
In contrast to the popularity of mobile shopping, sales made via desktop PCs have dipped below 50% for the first time, with purchases on tablet devices slipping by 5% compared to last.
Marrinan-Hayes believes brands must build campaigns that interact with individuals in a uniquely personalised way if they hope to retain customers using those channels.
“By no means is the desktop or tablet experience dead in the eyes of consumers,” he says. “However, greater efforts need to be made by UK retailers if they hope to capture the attention of consumers in a mobile-first environment.”
Marrinan-Hayes concludes: “This means investing in greater levels of personalisation and delivering onsite experiences that are contextually relevant to each user. At Ve, we’re working closely with a number of UK retailers to understand their users more and develop experiences that are tailored for them, from product discovery through to an eventual purchase, and beyond.”