M-commerce now accounts for half of traffic and is particularly strong in the apparel sector according to the latest UK e-retail benchmark
In the period between November 2013 to January 2014, which the benchmark measures as the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2013, m-commerce accounted for 32% of online sales. This splits out at 6% via smartphones, while tablet devices were used for 26% of e-commerce sales during the quarter.
This compares with 27% overall m-retail penetration in the previous quarter and represents 18% growth between Q3 and Q4. Visits to e-retail websites via mobile devices also increased and now account for 45% of traffic.
The Benchmark found that online clothing and fashion retailers have higher m-commerce penetration rates, with 36% of sales completed via smartphones and tablets during Q4 2013. Mobile visits to apparel websites also reached a tipping point
with over half of traffic now coming via mobile devices.
Increasing mobile consumer confidence
Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG
, said: “With an estimated 12 million tablet devices sold in the UK alone last year, and 70% of UK consumers now owning a smartphone, it is not surprising that the penetration of mobile commerce has reached a third of the UK online retail market. In fact, the latest Quarterly Benchmarking results reveal the penetration of m-retail has surged 2000% in just three years.
“Consumer confidence in mobile continues to increase and improvements in mobile optimisation and the user experience are certainly factors in this. We expect this trend to continue throughout 2014, with visits set to surpass desktop usage over the coming months”.
Chris Webster, head of retail at Capgemini
, added that the benchmark results demonstrate how successful retailers have been in encouraging consumers to adopt mobile devices as a shopping platform.
"This is thanks, in no small part, to the significant investments that have been made to m-commerce sites, which are now more intuitive and user friendly than ever before," he said. "This has helped ensure customers not only use the sites to browse but make purchases from them too, thereby reducing visitor bounce rates."
Basket abandonment and returns
Webster, however, added that some challenges still remain. "As our shopping behaviours shift from a traditional e-retail model to mobile, retailers will need to overcome the consistently high basket abandonment rates, as well as the significant number of items that are returned. So while enormous strides have been made, opportunities to materially improve performance remain.”
Other key highlights from the quarter's figures included a small dip in 'click & collect' sales. Following the record high percentage of click & collect
sales recorded in Q3 (August to October 2013), when the average reached 19%, they fell to 16% in Q4. But the percentage of orders returned remained unchanged from the previous quarter, at 17% during Q4. This was also unchanged from Q4 last year.
In line with previous trends, the average bounce rate fell between Q3 and Q4, reaching 25% in Q4, which is the lowest average recorded in two years. The average bounce rate is defined as single page visitors, irrespective of which page on the retailer’s website.
Neil Sansom, e-commerce director at Moss Bros
and IMRG member, commented: “It was definitely a mobile and click & collect Christmas and sale period for Moss Bros.
"Mobile now is as important as the full website version and we are now optimising the customer journey on both tablet and other mobile devices. Click & collect also played an important part, as customers look for more flexibility and convenience in delivery offers and order closer to big occasions like Christmas.”