September 4, 2012, 2:42 PM

By Christmas, one in five U.K. web purchases may be mobile

Mobile site visitors may reach 30%, IMRG and Capgemini forecast.

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20% of U.K. online sales may be made through a mobile device by Christmas 2012, with the percentage of site visits through the channel at around 30%, according to a new forecast from the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Index. Interactive Media in Retail Group, or IMRG, is a U.K. web retailing trade association. Capgemini is a global research and consulting firm.

The index finds in Q2 2012 11.6% of web sales were from mobile commerce, up from 8.2% in the first quarter. Since the beginning of 2010 the penetration of mobile in terms of U.K. web sales has soared 2,900%, rising from just 0.4% of total e-commerce sales in Q1 2010 to 11.6% in the last quarter. Site visits through mobile devices also rose significantly in the second quarter, reaching 21.1% of visits to U.K. retail web sites, up from 16.4% in the previous quarter.

The research also reveals the overall web site visitor bounce rate for Q2 rose to 29%, the highest yet recorded in the two-and-a-half years the index has been tracking it. A bounce rate is the percentage of the time a consumer views one page of a site then leaves. This suggests, IMRG and Capgemini say, that consumers are becoming more demanding when it comes to initial site engagement. The average bounce rate was 22% in 2010 and 24% in 2011; year to date in 2012, the average bounce rate is 28%, according to the index.

There were some positive signs in terms of cart abandonment rates, as the average rate fell five percentage points in Q2 to 55%. Although cart abandonment has been falling, the rate at which it is happening is only marginal and the overall level remains high, IMRG and Capgemini say. The average was 61% in 2010, 60% in 2011 and 58% year to date in 2012.

“While the share of online sales going through mobile devices continues to grow impressively, the actual final conversion side of it is only part of the story. Mobile has placed retailers in the palms of consumers’ hands, removing many former borders and expanding the contexts and times that engagement can happen,” says Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG. “With the phenomenal growth seen in m-retail sales and visits, inevitably this also impacts the web site visitor bounce rates, with fickle consumers easily able to compare and browse across multiple web sites before completing a purchase.”

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