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Over half of online sales now made through mobile devices

Thursday February 25th 2016

New figures have revealed that a major digital tipping point has been reached with the percentage of UK online retail sales made through mobile devices exceeding 50% for the first time.

The data from the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking report shows that smartphones and tablets accounted for 51% of UK online retail sales in the three months to January 2016 which was a substantial increase on the 45% recorded in the previous quarter and up from the 40% reported in the same period a year earlier.

IMRG and Capgemini said the leap in mobile penetration was driven by increased confidence in using smartphones for online shopping. Sales growth through the devices rose sharply in 2015, while growth through tablets reached a record low in December 2015.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “Smartphones have played an important role in the overall online shopping process for a long time – often used for research and comparison on the go – but over the past year they have really started to become a major component of the checkout process too and that is what is driving this leap in mobile penetration. In January sales via smartphones grew 95.6% year-on-year for example – over 7x the rate of those via tablets.”

Sales via tablets accounted for 33% of sales while those by smartphone reached 18%. Sales through desktop computers or laptops accounted for 49% of sales.

Visits to retail websites via mobile devices made up 66% of traffic in the three months, up from 63% in the previous quarter. This compares with 53% in the same period a year earlier.

Richard Tremellen, retail insight and data specialist at Capgemini, said: “This is a very significant milestone in the history of the online retail sector and reflects the work retailers have put into improving the customer experience on smartphones. Not only have mobile platforms become more secure, but the payment process is also much slicker. The result is smartphone conversion rates that are 70-80% higher than this time last year.”