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Handheld devices account for half of all UK online sales


The proportion of UK online retail sales made through smartphones and tablets has surpassed 50% for the first time.

In the quarter between November and January, 51% of online purchases were made through handheld devices, according to the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report. This was up from 40% during the same period last year and 45% during the previous quarter, possibly as a result of the increased sales activity during the holiday season.

Tablets accounted for 33% of sales, smartphones for 18% and desktop or laptop computers for 49%. Visits to retail websites meanwhile accounted for a full two-thirds of traffic over the quarter.

“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,” said IMRG Chief Information Officer Tina Spooner.

“There is also the fact that we increasingly use our smartphones for managing so much of our lives. It’s only logical that completing purchases on retail sites would gravitate over to these devices as well.”

It is not too surprising that online sales are heading in this direction, particularly as large retail names have adapted their online platforms to increasingly suit mobile devices. Chief Customer Officer at House of Fraser Andy Harding said it has “been clearly identified as a priority” for the company, “with over 40% of online sales coming from a mobile device last year and growing at a rate of over 100% year-on-year.”

“Mobile is undoubtedly our fastest growing sales channel,” said Mark Felix, Online Trade Director for John Lewis.

“Importantly though, mobile is becoming the glue between our shops and online. Increasingly, customers are using the two channels combined and for example use their mobiles to check ratings and reviews and further product information when in store.”

Published on Wednesday 24 February by Philip Gallagher

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