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How Mobile Devices are Changing E-commerce in the UK

According to the data revealed by multiple studies, the switch to mobile e-commerce is already a well-defined global trend. For example, an April 2013 survey carried out by eMarketer showed that in the United States, online shopping using mobile devices is quickly taking over the US online retail industry. According to this survey, approximately 15 per cent of all online transactions are performed using a mobile device (mainly tablet PCs). This means that mobile-based e-commerce generates more than $39 million a year, a figure that is 50 per cent higher than in 2012.

Europe is not lagging behind, as the EU has been considered the world’s largest e-commerce market for several years. In 2013, more than €363 billion were generated via online shopping in the Eurozone, and in fact, the online retail industry accounts for 2.2 per cent of the EU’s gross domestic product.

E-commerce is also booming in the Asia-Pacific region, mainly as a result of the huge growth levels of populous countries like China or India. Online retail in this part of the world is actually growing faster than in Europe, and in 2013 total sales in Asia amounted to more than €406 billion. Asian e-shoppers are also developing a strong preference for mobile devices, particularly in China, where nearly 70 per cent of shoppers use their smartphones to shop online.

But how is all this affecting the UK market? Along with France and Germany, the United Kingdom is one of the biggest e-commerce markets in Europe, so it’s reasonable to expect that things in the e-commerce scene are also moving in line with global trends. Continue reading to find out how mobile devices are changing e-commerce in the UK.

How mobile devices have transformed e-commerce in the United Kingdom

The UK, Germany, and France are considered the most mature e-commerce markets in the European continent. E-commerce in these three countries accounts for more than 60 per cent of the EU’s total turnover. In the United Kingdom alone, this industry generates €107 billion every year, nearly twice as much as the next most productive e-commerce market (Germany).

Over the past two years, m-commerce (shopping online using mobile devices) has taken the UK e-commerce market by storm. The appearance of tablet PCs is partly responsible for this transformation, especially considering that more than 12 million tablets were sold to UK consumers during 2013 alone. Thanks to their bigger screens, tablets provide a better shopping experience when compared to mobile phones. Have a look at the following figures, which have been taken from a recent eMarketer report:

  • Nearly 25 per cent of all e-commerce transactions in the UK originate in mobile devices
  • The m-commerce sector is set to grow by a whopping 64.8 per cent in 2014
  • In 2012, £1.72 billion were spent on online purchases made through tablets. This figure had grown to £9.28 in 2014
  • Purchases made using smartphones doubled from £2.04 billion in 2012 to £4.65 billion in 2014

M-commerce has had a specially high penetration rate in the fashion industry, as approximately 36 per cent of all online clothing sales take place over mobile devices

M-commerce in the UK: what does the future hold?

It is expected that by 2018, 2 in 5 m-commerce transactions will be completed on mobile devices. By that time, nearly £21 billion in sales will be generated through tablets and £7.84 billion through smartphones. This means that in just four years, this sector will grow by 40 per cent, changing consumer behaviour even faster and more profoundly. Market analysts have also predicted that the growing success of m-commerce will put pressure on marketing specialists, as mobile-friendly branding and advertising have distinct requirements that will need to be met very soon.

In order to prepare for this far-reaching transformation, e-tailers are now urged to optimise their websites to accommodate the needs of consumers who prefer to shop using their mobile devices. In order to maintain competitive advantage in the e-commerce market, it is no longer enough to have a website. A dedicated mobile version has become a necessity for most e-tailers, as this provides the better, faster, and seamless shopping experience that online shoppers are looking for.


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