The proportion of online shopping being done on the move has jumped by more than 800 per cent over the past year as consumer confidence grows and firms launch better mobile web sites, according to research from the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) and Capgemini.
The two organisations, which produce a monthly e-Retail Sales Index, have teamed up again on a new initiative – the Quarterly Benchmarking Index – designed to provide retailers with greater insight into consumer e-commerce behaviour.
It reported mobile sales up from 0.4 per cent of total online sales at the start of 2010 to 3.3 per cent in Q2 2011/12, with some retailers reporting nearly seven per cent of total sales coming via their mobile site.
The percentage of visits via mobile also increased over the period, from an average of 1.4 per cent in Q1 2010/11 to seven per cent in the most recent quarter, with some retailers reporting that 12 per cent of all their visits come via the mobile channel.
Another interesting indicator of the growth of m-commerce came on Friday when John Lewis announced it would become the first UK retailer to provide free Wi-Fi in all of its stores.
"We recognise that mobile phones have become a crucial part of people's shopping habits," said John Lewis head of multi-channel, Simon Russell.
"The roll-out of Wi-Fi in our shops is a big step forward in helping customers to have all of the information they need at their fingertips to make an informed purchase."
IMRG and Capgemini explained that web sites in general are becoming more engaging and user friendly for customers, pointing to a drop in checkout and basket abandonment rates over the past six quarters, from 37 per cent to 32 per cent and 63 per cent to 59 per cent respectively.
However, Capgemini head of retail consulting and technology, Chris Webster, argued that more online sites need to follow the example of retailers like Amazon to streamline the checkout process and provide clear pricing and delivery charges.
"The report has revealed that the average basket abandonment rate for UK e-retailers is currently 59 per cent," he added.
"If we consider this in a physical sense, we can see how alarmingly high this figure is. If three-fifths of shoppers, having chosen and queued, walked away from the till, shop keepers would clearly act."
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