Retailers in the UK are missing out on at least £1.3 billion in sales as a result of poor mobile broadband coverage, according to new data released by Verdict Research on behalf of online marketplace eBay.
As smartphone usage grows m-commerce is becoming an increasingly popular method of shopping, but eBay warned today that more than one-third of the consumers it questioned have failed to complete a purchase online due to unreliable connections.
With research indicating that there are large parts of the UK, including in the Scottish Highlands and rural Wales, where mobile spending is at least 20 per cent below the national average, eBay is calling on mobile industry regulators to improve mobile broadband coverage nationwide.
In a submission to communications regulator Ofcom, eBay said it wants policy makers to address consumer frustrations when rules for the fourth generation of mobile networks are agreed later this year.
Angus McCarey, UK Retail Director for eBay UK, said: “Mobile shopping represents a massive opportunity not just for retailers, but for the economy as a whole.
“But our research shows that consumers and retailers are missing out as the cost and reliability of mobile broadband prevents shoppers from spending.
“High quality and reliable mobile broadband coverage throughout the UK has to be our ambition, giving consumers choice over when and how they shop, encouraging spending, thereby benefitting online and high street retail, and giving a much needed boost to the fragile economic recovery.”
The study predicts that mobile shopping could deliver a £4.5 billion boost to Britain’s economy by 2016, adding a further £13 billion by 2021.
Meanwhile, eBay says that mobile continues to be the fastest growing part of its business, with global mobile sales expected to double in 2011 to reach $4 billion (£2.4 billion).
Online research group eDigitial Research published a report last week suggesting that fashion specialist Asos.com and high street mainstay Marks & Spencer are among the retailers held in high regard for their mobile websites, but consumers’ m-commerce expectations have increased significantly in the last year.
Neil Saunders, Consulting Director at Verdict Research, commented: “With the increasing proliferation of smartphones, more and more consumers want make the most of the convenience of being able to shop on the move.
“Retailers need to move fast to optimise their websites and capture this growing market.”