There was a 42 per cent year-on-year rise in internet searches for multichannel retailers in the first quarter of 2011, according to the inaugural Online Retail Monitor (ORM) from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Google.
In comparison pure-play retailers such as Play.com and Amazon.co.uk witnessed a 19 per cent increase in searches during the same period, as total retail search volumes grew by 29 per cent on the same period last year.
Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC, said that the data helps emphasis what an important part the internet plays in today’s retail landscape.
“Online is the fastest growing part of retailing. We need to better understand that development and what’s driving it,” he explained.
“Despite any short-term effects from weakening consumer confidence, what stands out here is the fundamental strength of the growth of online retailing.”
Highlighting the latest growth area for retail, the ORM shows that searches conducted on mobiles accounted for 11 per cent of total retail searches during the quarter.
Compared to the Q1 in 2010 mobile retail search traffic rose by 181 per cent, which emphasises the potential of this platform for UK retailers looking to appeal to the widest possible market.
“A threefold increase in mobile retail searches reveals customers are taking to smartphone and tablet shopping very rapidly,” Robertson added.
“The rise of mobile use to one in ten searches sends a valuable message to any forward-thinking retailer that doesn’t yet have an m-commerce platform.”
Although online and mobile platforms will obviously play a vital role in retailers’ development in the coming years, a new report from global real estate adviser CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) suggests that bricks and mortar stores should not be forgotten.
Research for the publication, dubbed How Global is the Business of Retail?, found that although an online platform is now a minimum requirement for retail companies seeking international expansion, physical stores are still integral because of the supply chain problems that arise through internet-only operations.
Peter Gold, Head of EMEA Cross Border Retail at CBRE, commented: “The presence of a physical store makes it easier for a retailer to operate an online platform.
“Not only is the store a place for buying or viewing a product, it is also the location where consumers go to pick-up goods that have been bought online.”