A major ecommerce milestone was reached in the UK last quarter. Sales from mobile devices accounted for more than half of online transactions.
More than half of UK online sales were made via a mobile device between November 2015 and January 2016. It's the first time ever that mobile sales have surpassed desktop or laptop sales, accounting for 51% of online shopping.
Figures come from IMRG, who carry out in-depth tracking of online sales and digital trends.
The breakdown of the stats are interesting as it shows a clear lead for tablets for the last quarter:
However, this doesn't tell the whole story. While tablets are ahead of mobiles, the growth rate for mobiles is seven times that of tablets. Sales grew 95.6% in January 2016 compared to the same month last year.
Not only did sales via smartphones and laptops reach 51%, but they were also siginificantly up compared to previous quarter. From August to October 2015, mobile device sales accounted for 45% of online sales. It's also a substantial year on year increase. For the last quarter of the previous year, mobile sales were at 40%.
From IMRG's Tina Spooner, chief information officer:
“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."
Many companies have invested in mobile or responsive websites so that customers can easily navigate and checkout even on a tiny screen. So it will be reassuring to know that the conversation rate on mobile has gone up massively since last year, by 70-80%.
Richard Tremellen, retail insight and data specialist for tech consultancy Capgemini, said:
“This is a very significant milestone in the history of the online retail sector and reflects the work retailers have put into improving the customer experience on smartphones. Not only have mobile platforms become more secure, but the payment process is also much slicker."
As part of the IMRG press release (click here to see the full original press release) they had a comment from John Lewis. They said it was there fastest growing sales channel, as many customers liked the convenience of using a mobile or tablet.
Mark Felix, Director of online trade for the department store, said:
"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."
House of Fraser cited mobile development as a "priority area", with mobile sales growing 100% year-on-year.
Richard Tremellen of Capgemini said that mobile advertising and geo-location marketing (more on that later) have yet to fully kick on, so expects further growth for mobile ecommerce when they do.