The importance of smartphone users to the retail industry seems to be increasing, with a new report claiming a rapid growth in m-commerce participation.
According to digital analysts ComScore, 13.5 million consumers in the five leading European markets accessed retail sites via mobile phones in the three months to May 2011, and the number of smartphone users engaging with these sites grew 80 per cent year-on-year.
Although the number of visitors to retailer’s platforms via smartphones was significant in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the UK represented the largest growth in retail website interaction, up 163 per cent compared to the same period last year.
“Over the past year, online retailers enjoyed strong growth in visitation from mobile devices in Europe, largely driven by the acceleration in smartphone ownership,” said Jeremy Copp, European Vice President for Mobile at ComScore.
“This trend represents both an opportunity and a threat for retailers. While mobile access offers retailers incremental occasions to engage with customers, it also provides customers the ability to easily compare prices at competing retailers while inside a particular retailer’s store.
“Retailers must get a firm handle on mobile shopping behaviour if they are to effectively navigate this changing environment.”
Over the period, ComScore found that the proportion of total mobile users in the UK accessing retail sites via their handsets was 9.2 per cent, compared to a increase of 7.9 per cent for smartphone users.
Despite the growing popularity of stand-alone transactional retail sites, auction sites, such as eBay, are still more popular, having been accessed by 10.5 per cent of total mobile users during the period.
Speaking to Retail Gazette recently, CEO of ecommerce solutions provider eSellerPro, Keith Bird, argued that consumers’ desire to use multiple platforms to shop means it is essential that growing retailers must invest in selling through auction site along with their own transactional online stores.