As the e-retail market rebounds, mobile sales record extraordinary growth
UK consumers spent £5.8 billion online in March, the equivalent of £114 per person, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. This equates to a year-on-year growth of 14% for the e-retail sector and a 9% increase on February.
With more and more tech-savvy Brits using smartphones and tablets fitted with sophisticated applications, shopping via mobile devices is becoming an important driver of online shopping. As a result, m-retail has recorded huge growth, up a staggering 254% on March 2011 and averaging 300% year-on-year growth for Q1 2012.
Interestingly, the conversion rates for mobile (those shoppers that visit a retail site via a mobile device and make a purchase from it) remains very low – 0.7% in Q1 2011, increasing to 1.4% in Q1 2012, compared to 4.13% in March for traditional online website visitor conversions. This strongly suggests that shoppers are primarily using mobile devices to browse for goods on the move, compare prices in-store or use functions such as store locators. All the mobile figures are taken from the m-Retail Sales Index, which runs in parallel with the main Index and has been launched this month.
The performance of the e-retail sector adds to an increasing disparity with the high-street, which has continued to struggle. The overall online market saw a 13% year-on-year growth during the first quarter of 2012, confirming our earlier estimates for the year and a positive indication that the market is doing well in spite of the economy.
March was given a major boost by the sunny start to spring , which saw fashion-conscious Brits updating their wardrobes, resulting in growth of 15% year-on-year and a steep 23% month-on-month rise in the clothing sector.
Mothering Sunday was another key driver in March’s strong performance. The gifts sector in particular saw the benefits of shoppers jumping online to buy presents for mum, leaping 48% year-on-year. Similarly, the health & beauty sector, which includes perfumes and other toiletries, saw a respectable increase of 19% on February.
Andy Mulcahy, Head of Communications at IMRG, said: “We are very pleased to have broken out our m-Retail Index this month for the first time and, as already indicated by our Quarterly Benchmarking Index, the growth rates are exceptionally high at the moment. Although confidence in the mobile channel is obviously growing, the average conversion rate of just 1% is far lower than that of total e-retail. This may be partly influenced by the context in which mobile engagement can occur, with consumers comparing prices in-store or using store locators on the move for example.
“For the e-retail market as a whole, the first quarter has come in at 13% growth which is exactly in line with our forecast for the year. This is very positive news as the growth rates for Q1 in 2011 were very strong so the market is performing well against a high base.”
Sean McKee, Head of Ecommerce and Customer Services, Schuh: “At Schuh we are seeing a truly dynamic performance from both smart phone and tablet and consider all things “mobile” to be fundamental to our efforts to broaden customer choice. We believe that the benchmarking and pooling of performance data is good for the industry and ultimately good for the consumer, so it is with real enthusiasm that we are participating in the m-Retail Sales index. We look forward to the first report!”
Kenneth Ball, IT Director at Schuh, will participate in a Panel Discussion and Interactive Q & A Session: In-Store Technology Engagement In 2014 at the Retail Bulletin’s InStore Engagement Conference 2012. The event is supported by IMRG.
Click here for further details and registration.
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