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E-retail mobile traffic and sales boom

By Retail Technology | Tuesday November 19 2013

Benchmark figures detailing traffic to UK retail websites in the run up to Christmas find growth unabated but the role of the retail website is changing

The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark has revealed that the percentage of traffic to UK retail websites coming from mobile devices is up year-on-year by over 60% in October 2013, while the amount of sales coming from mobile devices increased 80%. 

It also found this trend towards a greater proportion of sales from mobile devices has accelerated over the last two years, rising from almost 25% in October 2012 compared to the same month in 2011 (to 80% in the last year to October). 

Preparing for exponential growth 

IBM believes the increase in traffic and sales from mobile sites will continue to grow at current rates, and retailers and brands must pay attention. “The acceleration in the proportion of sales from mobile devices is significant," said Chris Withers, head of Smarter Commerce for retail in Europe at IBM. 

“The big trends driving mobile – which include the increase in adoption of tablets and smartphones, plus the optimisation of retailer digital sites for mobile devices – will continue to be strong in 2014 and retailers need to assess the split between investment in their .com platform and their mobile offerings." 

This changing role of the retail website also heralds opportunities for retailers both instore and online. As consumers access sites and interact with brands via always connected and permanently at-hand smartphone devices, IBM said retailers can seize the opportunity to evolve their relationships with customers. 

Integrating social channels

A study of 4,000 business executives released by IBM earlier this quarter revealed the extent to which companies are opening up to customer input: 21% of chief marketing officers (CMOs) said their organisations collaborate with customers today using social networks while 78% expected to do so in the next three to five years. 

“The findings highlight the need for retailers to invest in mobile-optimised websites,” added Withers. “But in addition, mobile offers exciting opportunities to innovate the customer experience instore. 

“With location awareness through a consumer's mobile device, the store can become instrumented in the same way as a website today, offering marketers the ability to build location and context specific campaigns, and helping store colleagues to offer a better service.”

Key benchmark trends

Comparing October 2012 with October 2013 in the UK, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark also found: 
  • Year-on-year online retail sales increased by 8.7% 
  • Average order value (AOV) grew 3.8% year-on-year at £97.35 
  • Smartphones drove more traffic than tablets (22.32% versus 20.41%) but tablets droveve nearly twice as many purchases than smartphones (20.19% versus 11.3%). Or, of all mobile traffic, smartphones drove 52% and tablets 48% of mobile sales
  • Tablet users spend more average time on site compared to smartphone users (6 minutes versus 4 minutes 19 seconds) 
  • Mobile traffic by device: iPad 17.18%; iPhone 13.41%; and Samsung accounts for 66% of all Android traffic (or 7.12% of all online traffic) 
  • The percentage of social site referral traffic is 0.53%, with Facebook driving the majority of referrals to retail sites
  • Pinterest referral AOV is 7.2% higher than Facebook referral. But Facebook orders convert at twice the rate of Pinterest orders

Today's findings from IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, are based on tracking daily e-commerce transactions from more than 200 participating UK retail websites. 

To download a copy of IBM’s 2013 UK Christmas Readiness report for retailers (after registration) click here.

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