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UK small retailers failing to adapt to mobile – and are losing sales rapidly, warns PayPal

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The UK’s small businesses are losing sales because they still aren’t adapting their websites to work on mobile, according to research by PayPal.

Now in its third year, PayPal’s mobile commerce research reveals that, while 42% of people are buying via their mobile phone at least once a week, rising to 65% for consumers age 25 – 34, just 17% offer websites designed for these small portable screens – showing no improvement from last year. 

A vast gap has also appeared between consumer expectations and what small businesses provide: while 9 out of 10 small businesses with mobile-friendly websites think that they offer customers a good experience, only 4 out of 10 consumers agree.

The research also identifies a growing opportunity for businesses that are mobile-friendly, UK consumers have grown more confident spending on mobiles and are now willing to spend more than £100 in an average mobile transaction, up from £80 in 2017.

In a nod to the changing retail landscape, 22% of consumers also said they prefer shopping on their mobile rather than the high street, a figure that has more than doubled since 2016; and 30% of consumers said they expected to shop on their mobile more often in the next year.

Lauren Hampshire, founder of The Milky Tee Company, which produces clothing for breastfeeding mums, explains how embracing mobile has helped her reach a key target audience: “When we first started out I was looking at the website from a computer and assumed our customers were doing the same. It was only after seeing our first month’s website analytics we realised that 85% of our website traffic was coming via mobiles, but we weren’t converting these visitors into sales because our website didn’t work as well on a smaller screen. It only took a few small changes to make our website more user-friendly for busy new mums who are often doing everything with one hand, including shopping on a smartphone! Following the change, we saw a 28% increase in sales which has made a huge difference. Now, any changes we make to the website are done with a mobile-first mindset: at the end of the day, it’s important to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and as a mum of two myself I know exactly what works.”

Commenting on the findings, Nicola Longfield, Director of Small Business at PayPal UK, says: “With people increasingly shopping on their mobile phones, small businesses need to wake up to the fact that there is still a large gap between what customers want, and what they are receiving. If websites remain difficult to use, small businesses will simply miss out on sales. There are relatively easy fixes that business owners can make to get more mobile sales. For instance, offering mobile-friendly payment options like PayPal, so that customers don’t have to enter lengthy card details, and formatting websites for scrolling without needing to zoom in can make a huge difference.”

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