It’s official: mobile sales now outpace desktop in the UK, according to the new UK Mobile Commerce Report from Criteo released this week. The bi-annual research examines m-commerce trends and provides insights into online shopping behaviour as the consumer path to purchase evolves, and as more retailers adopted consumer friendly mobile sites and transaction-driving commerce apps.

Key findings of the report were:

A tipping point: For the first time, on average, retailers in the UK saw at least half of their sales from mobile, an 11% increase on the same period last year. The leading 25% of mobile retailers’ share of mobile went even further and crossed the 60% mark.

Top verticals pull away: Fashion brands extended their lead over other subcategories with over half of their sales now occurring on mobile. Home, a slow performing category last year, showed a strong growth of 53% and moved ahead of Health & Beauty and Sporting Goods.

Tablets fade, smartphones soar: This is no surprise, as worldwide tablet shipments dropped 15% YOY in Q1 2016, from 46M to 40M, while smartphone shipments grew to 335M (IDC). 58% of retail mobile transactions are now done by smartphone (an increase of 26% YoY).

At the same time, iPhone transactions are growing at a faster rate than Android –now accounting for 20.2% of transactions in the UK vs 8.7% Android. That’s growth of 42% YoY. The UK (and Japan) have now crossed the line –selling more via mobile than through desktop, and for the first quarter ever, smartphones now deliver the majority of mobile transactions in every major market. New smartphone features like fingerprint recognition will help continue to make smartphone transactions even easier.

Apps reign: Apps remain the most efficient channel for retailers, driving a larger percentage of shoppers down the purchase funnel and converting at 3x the rate of mobile web, largely thanks to their ease of use. New app users are twice as likely to return within 30 days vs. mobile web users. And savvy app retailers see up to 54% of their mobile transactions generated in-app. For mobile web to keep up, we need to see development of Progressive Web Apps and speedier standards for mobile sites to help with conversion rates.

What this report, and growing consumer insight highlights, is how essential it is for retailers to commit to continuous improvement of their mobile sites, including site navigation and usability, in order to satisfy customer expectations and stay ahead of the competition. Even if Apps aren’t for you, your site must be mobile smart.

With our industry still trying to suss out effective routes to mobile advertising, one thing is for sure –mobile commerce is no longer a small part of the consumer purchase journey… it’s the part.

The Mobile Commerce Report is based on over 3,300 online retail businesses globally; 1.7 billion transactions per year across desktop and mobile sites; $720 billion in annual sales.

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