September 2, 2014, 11:08 AM

Mobile visitors to retail sites overtake desktop visitors in the U.K.

52% of retail site traffic now originates on tablets or smartphones, and transactions from those devices account for more than a third of U.K. web sales.

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U.K. consumers in Q2 more often turned to their mobile devices than their computers to connect with retailers, with 52% of traffic to retail web sites coming from smartphones and tablet computers. It was the first time U.K. retailers received more web traffic from mobile than from the desktop web, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report.

The report, produced by technology consultancy Capgemini and U.K. e-retail association Interactive Media in Retail Group, measures online traffic and sales for about 40 U.K. retailers.

More than a third, 36%, of U.K. online sales took place on mobile devices in the May to July quarter, according to the report. Of those, 82% of those took place on tablets and 18% on smartphones.

The report estimates web sales across all devices, including desktop and laptop, for the quarter were 24.2 billion pounds ($39.9 billion), with mobile devices accounting for 8.7 billion ($14.4 billion) of the total.

“Considering that as recently as 2010 mobile visits to e-retail sites accounted for less than 3% of traffic, this latest milestone represents staggering growth of 2,000% over the past 4 years,” says Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG. “These results clearly demonstrate that retailers’ investment in mobile optimization is encouraging consumers to adopt mobile devices as a shopping platform.”

In 2014, mobile sales will reach 21% of total web sales for the leading 500 retailers in mobile commerce worldwide, according to data in the newly published 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500. The U.K. retailer generating the most sales via mobile devices is Shop Direct Ltd., through the e-commerce site. According to Internet Retailer estimates, it will generate approximately $617.6 million in web sales through mobile devices this year, equal to 22% of its total web sales. ShopDirect Ltd. ranks No. 17 in the Mobile 500.

Gareth Jones, Shop Direct’s group retail and strategy director, says 50% of its online sales from May to July came through mobile devices. He says the retailer is creating transactional mobile apps for each of its store brands—which include, K& and, among others—to capitalize on mobile’s acceleration.



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