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Mobile Gains Speed as UK Ecommerce Maintains Momentum

Robust growth in ecommerce sales despite economy

June 4, 2012

UK B2C ecommerce is going from strength to strength, despite the gloom shadowing the national economy. Total ecommerce B2C sales in the country reached $109 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer calculations, and will rise more than $15 billion in 2012.

“Most online shoppers in the UK are experienced and demanding,” said Karin von Abrams, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “UK B2C Ecommerce: Mobile Takes Center Stage.” “To keep up, successful etailers are flexible and innovative, pushing for greater efficiencies and a better user experience. Many now offer wider delivery options, for example, including ‘click and collect’ and same-day or next-day service at a premium rate.”

UK B2C Ecommerce Sales, 2010-2016 (billions and % change)

“The big story is mobile,” said von Abrams. “The mobile platform plays an ever-larger part in consumer shopping and buying processes. Even when they do not complete transactions via mobile, large numbers of UK shoppers use their phones to take pictures of potential purchases, access online reviews, compare prices, consult friends and family, locate nearby stores, add items to an online shopping list or place an order.”

By January 2012, a significant proportion of web users were using their mobiles in stores to scan barcodes, compare prices, check out product details and reviews, or look for mobile vouchers. At that time, according to “Mobile in the Retail Store,” a study by mobile survey firm On Device Research, nearly a quarter of mobile web users sent email or went to social sites while shopping in a store.

In-Store Mobile Shopping Activities of UK Mobile Internet Users, Jan 2012 (% of respondents)

How quickly purchase activity itself will move to mobile platforms is an open question. But leading retailers have no doubt that UK consumers want mobile shopping and buying options. The industry’s early success stories certainly seem to vindicate that premise. As Jonathon Brown, head of online selling at John Lewis, told The Guardian newspaper at the end of 2011, “Mobile has reached a scale now where all retailers have to take it seriously.”

The full report, “UK B2C Ecommerce: Mobile Takes Center Stage,” also answers these key questions:

  • How large is the UK’s ecommerce market?
  • What are the major trends shaping UK online shopping in 2012?
  • Which brands are taking the lead in mobile commerce?
  • How are UK consumers using mobile devices to shop and buy?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.

Check out today’s other articles, “Content Curation Can Inform, Engage Customers” and “Automotive Shoppers Look to Mobile to Research Purchases.”


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