July 31, 2012, 4:46 PM

One in eight European smartphone owners makes mobile purchases

And one in six accesses retail sites and apps from their smartphones.

Lead Photo

 More Europeans are using their smartphones to make online purchases, according to new data on mobile commerce across five major EU countries–France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.

The research, released this week by digital analytics firm comScore Inc., finds one in six smartphone users in the countries accessed online retail sites and apps on their devices in May, nearly double the amount a year earlier. Additionally, one in eight smartphone users completed a retail transaction on their phones.

The data measure the mobile retail activity among smartphone users 13 and older in May 2012, as compared with the same month last year. The research found that 19.5 million smartphone users accessed retail content in that month, 16.6% of the total 117.6 million smartphone owners across the countries—an increase of 4.6 percentage points year over year, comScore says.

Approximately one in eight smartphone users (12.4%) in the countries polled purchased goods or services on their devices in May 2012. Among the smartphone users who accessed retail content in that month, 75% conducted a transaction.

E-commerce is now central to many consumers’ digital lives, says Hesham Al-Jehani, European mobile product manager at comScore.

"We are now observing a rapid increase in the emergence of m-commerce, where consumers visit retail sites or use dedicated apps and ultimately make on-device purchases,” he says.

Retailers are responding to the changing consumer environment by simplifying the transaction processes and improving the mobile experience to facilitate on-the-go purchasing, he says. Of the five countries, Spain is the fastest-growing in mobile shopping activity, with 1.9 million smartphone owners accessing retail sites and apps from their devices in May, up 141% compared with May 2011. 

The U.K. is the largest market by absolute numbers, with 6.5 million smartphone users accessing retail sites and apps, but also has the least rapid growth rate at 74% year-over-year growth for May. Germany ranks a close second with 5.8 million retail site users and a growth rate of 118%.

Apparel and accessories, purchased by 4.3% of smartphone owners polled, ranks as the top mobile purchasing category, and books (bought by 3.2%), ranks second. Other services or goods purchased by European smartphone owners include consumer electronics/household appliances (3.1%), tickets (3.1%) and personal care/hygiene products (2.1%). Consumers could answer that they purchased in more than one category in the poll.

“Given Europeans’ existing predilection for online apparel shopping, it is not surprising to see this category rank as the most popular for purchase via mobile devices." says Al-Jehani.

He adds, however, that the category’s popularity may correspond with the heavy use of e-mail marketing by apparel and accessories retailers, with consumers more likely to see and respond to offers on their phones when they check their e-mail.

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