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Mobile overtakes desktop traffic on retail websites

By Retail Technology | Thursday September 4 2014

Recent research has shown that visits to retail websites via mobile devices have overtaken desktop traffic for the first time

Over half of traffic to retail websites is now coming via smartphones and tablets and mobile commerce now accounts for 36% of UK e-retail sales, rising to 40% for clothing and apparel websites.

The latest IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report, which examines around 40 retailers, has also revealed in increase in visitor bounce rate, which has been put down to the increase in mobile traffic. Checkout abandonment rate is at a record low of 27%.

Tablets in the lead

Of sales completed on a mobile device, smartphones account for around 18%, while tablets account for 82%, based on the data sample from the IMRG Capgemini m-Retail Sales Index.
“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,” commented Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG. "These results clearly demonstrate that retailers’ investment in mobile optimisation is encouraging consumers to adopt mobile devices as a shopping platform.”
The report also revealed that the total estimated online spend during Q2 (May to July) was £24.2bn, with £8.7bn spent via smartphones and tablet devices.

Industry views

Sean McKee, head of e-commerce and customer services at Schuh, commented that mobile surged again at Schuh in Q2, with smartphone visits exceeding desktop for the first time. “Total mobile device traffic averages 62% and total mobile sales now runs at 50%.  Smartphone is still leading the way with heavy growth in visits, noticeably improving in geographies away from London, as Summer Sale and Back to School customers become increasingly used to the added convenience.”  

Mark Lewis, Online Director at John Lewis, said: "We called John Lewis's first ever 'mobile Christmas' in 2013 and we have continued to see customers shop via this channel during the first half of this year.”

“Today, over half of the traffic to comes from mobile and tablet devices and we've also seen an increase in the conversion rate of traffic to sales,” he continued. “We've placed a significant focus on developing our mobile strategy and have more enhancements planned for our app later this year. Customers want to be able to shop seamlessly across all channels and mobile is now the go-to choice alongside visiting our shops."

Gareth Jones, group retail and strategy director at Shop Direct, said that this quarter marked the first time that mobile devices accounted for 50% of Shop Direct’s online sales – up from 47% the previous quarter and from just 35% the same time last year. 

“This June, we also saw smartphone creep ahead of tablet as a sales channel for the first time,” said Jones. “As a device, the smartphone is the fastest growing sales channel for us, highlighting our customers’ growing confidence in transacting on their phones. Later this year, we plan to launch new transactional apps for each of our digital department store brands to capitalise on this trend and ensure we keep pace with our customers constantly changing shopping habits.”

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