Two thirds of all UK e-commerce purchases to be made on smartphones by 2020

Mobile is set to become central to 80% of all UK e-commerce purchases by 2020, with two thirds or £43bn of all online sales estimated to be made on a smartphone, according to new research.

A new report from OC&C Strategy Consultants, Google and PayPal UK, based on an exclusive dataset of search and transaction data, found that smartphone shopping will be taking over online retail soon and that the value of mobile transactions will treble from £13.5bn in just four years.

But despite the rapid global shift to mobile, retailers in the UK are lagging behind their US and Asian counterparts. Consumers consider speed one of the most important factors when shopping online, however leading retailer sites in the UK are between 10% and 25% slower to load than US sites.

According to Google, if retailers would improve load times by 1 second, their conversion rates would be increased by 27%.

Furthermore, half of Britons would prefer customer support via mobile chat, but only 16% of the top 100 UK retailers offer this service. In contrast, 41% of the top 100 US retailers do so.

Additionally, UK brands are ignoring an increasingly important sales channel: messaging apps. Approximately 250m consumers in China made a purchase through WeChat in 2016, but only few top retailers have a presence on a messaging platform in the UK.

“There are many things retailers could be doing to make the most of mobile, but the key to success lies in a few high impact items which together can give them a competitive edge. First, develop a presence on messaging platforms. With more active users than social networks and growing, messaging apps have huge e-commerce potential. In the next ten years, platform presence may well be more important for retailers than having an app,” said Alex Mathers, Associate Partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants.

“Second, use mobile as the glue between online and in-store. Simple things like providing in-store Wi-Fi, to more advanced digital loyalty schemes, mobile-enabled barcode scanning and in-store wallets are already generating significant engagement, data and conversion benefits for the likes of Topshop, Tesco and Target,” he continued.

“Finally, and most importantly, make speed king. Improve load times, but also help consumers complete their mission as quickly as possible – streamline the journey, and help users work cross-device via things like basket sharing, wish-lists and sharing recently viewed items across devices.”

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