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UK leads the m-retail revolution with a fifth of all online spend coming through mobile this year, finds pan-European study

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A fifth of all online transactions in the UK are set to come from mobile by the end of this year, accounting for a whopping £8billion being spent through the channel. And the picture is pretty rosy across the rest of Europe, if The Centre for Retail Research is to be believed.

Mobile shoppers in Europe are set to spend £19.8 billion in 2014, almost twice as much as last year’s spend of £10.7 billion according to new research commissioned by RetailMeNot, the world’s largest digital coupon marketplace and operator of The study, conducted by the Centre for Retail Research, found that Brits are the biggest mobile shoppers in Europe with a forecast spend of £7.9 billion this year, up from £4.9 billion in 2013.

Although almost half (48%) of people in Europe now have a smartphone, just one in five (20%) have used their mobile device to access a retail site in the previous 3 months. [2] The study shows that the UK is the most mature m-commerce market in Europe, with 28% of people having used their smartphones to browse online stores within that period, followed by Germany (27%) and Sweden (21%). Shoppers in France and Italy are least likely to use mobile devices to visit retail websites, with just one in ten (12%) of shoppers doing so.

Globally, the study found that the US is home to the world’s biggest m-commerce market; according to the research mobile shoppers accounted for 14% of the £165.3 billion spent online last year with a collective spend of £22.8 billion.

Comparatively, m-commerce spend in Europe made up 8% of the e-commerce market, driving £10.7 billion of the total £111.2 billion in online sales. With 13% of British ecommerce spend made on a mobile device in 2013, the UK is Europe’s most developed mobile ecommerce market; mobile devices accounted for £5.8 billion of the £38.8 billion spent online in 2013.

Commenting the results of the study, Giulio Montemagno, Senior Vice President of International at RetailMeNot, says: “The emerging m-commerce market today in Europe and the US resembles that of e-commerce in the early part of last decade. As smartphones and tablets have become increasingly sophisticated, more consumers are using mobile devices to shop. This is a trend we are seeing both in-store and online, with consumers using smartphones to research products, looking for voucher codes and making purchases. Our study suggests that purchases on smartphones and tablets could account for nearly a fifth of all online transaction in the UK this year and some £7.9 billion in sales.”

The study predicts that in 2014, m-commerce is set to account for a fifth (20%) of all online purchases in the US and a total spend of £37.7 billion – about the size of Germany’s entire e-commerce market, which is set to reach £35.4 billion this year. In Europe, m-commerce sales are forecast to hit £19.8 billion, with purchases made on mobile devices accounting for 13% of all online sales. Brits are expected to spend almost one in every five pounds (18%) online on mobile devices this year, driving £7.9 billion of a total £45 billion in online sales.

The research further suggests that the growth in online retail sales made on desktop or laptop computers is set to grow by 11% in Europe and 6% in the US this year, while shopping via mobile channels is forecast to increase by 85% in Europe and 65% in the US. Poland, Germany and France are expected to lead m-commerce growth in Europe, with the market growing by 113% in Poland, 112% in Germany, and 106% in France. While still growing rapidly, the UK has already reached a more mature level, with growth of 62% forecast, the lowest level in Europe.

“The study shows that mobile is now the key driver behind the growth of e-commerce. While sales made on desktop or laptop computers are expected to grow by 9% in the UK in 2014, they are expected to increase by 62% on mobile devices,” adds Giulio Montemagno. “To take advantage of this shift, retailers must adapt by optimizing their websites to mobile devices and ensuring payments are secure.”

Across the 8 European markets covered by the study, computers remain the most popular choice for surfing the web, with 85% of 2013 web activity carried out on a computer, while 10% came from smartphones and 5% from tablets. In the UK, mobile devices accounted for more than a third of web traffic (35%) during the same period, with smartphones accounting for 25% of all Internet traffic. At the other end of the scale, Poland is the least developed market in Europe with not more than 8% of web activity carried out on a computer.

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