Online shopping via smartphones will surge in popularity over the next five years as new technology enables retailers to offer customers a fully integrated multi-channel shopping experience, according to catalogue giant Argos.
Adrian Burleton, business development director at the retail chain, said at this year's E Commerce Expo event in London that increasingly sophisticated smartphones and mobile platforms are driving mobile commerce.
A quarter of Argos sales are made through the firm's multi-channel 'check and reserve' service, where customers order online and pick up in store, and the retailer launched an iPhone app in May to further personalise the shopping experience.
"Even before the app launched we had significant visits to our site from mobile users via Safari," said Burleton. "As smartphone technology has evolved, mobile shopping has evolved. There will be an explosion over the next five years."
The Argos app has already recorded nearly one million downloads, and accounts for one per cent of total Argos sales, attracting customers by offering stock availability in their nearest store.
Google, meanwhile, has been showing off a local shopping service at the E Commerce Expo designed in close co-operation with several big name retailers.
Kelly Allison, European head of commerce partnerships at Google, said that the service, available only in the US at present, offers mobile customers searching for products a list of nearby physical stores as well as approximate stock levels.
Allison urged retailers in the UK to prepare for the service by having inventory data to hand, putting store locators on Google Places, and ensuring that product search feeds are uploaded to the Google Merchant Centre.
"This will probably put you in a good position," he said.
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