Smartphone-based UK retail searches up 23 percent

Analysis of the volumes of UK retail searches made in the first quarter of 2017 shows that the growth of smartphone use for online retail browsing has outstripped that of all other devices.

Figures from the latest issue of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Google Online Retail Monitor reveal that the volume of UK retail searches made on smartphones grew by 23 percent in the first three months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

UK retail searches using smartphone pixabay-791644The latest figures for UK retail searches highlight the need for retailers to make their online shops as easy to use on a smartphone as on other devices. Image: pixabay-791644

This growth in smartphone use for online retail browsing is over three times faster than usage across all devices, which was 7 percent up in Q1 of 2017 compared to the previous year.

Smartphone shopping needs to be as easy as on other devices

The figures for UK retail searches highlight the important need for online retailers to serve shoppers browsing for goods on their smartphones as well as they serve shoppers browsing on other devices such as their laptops and computers.

BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson says, this means, for example, that: “Smartphone-ready sites and quick loading times are essential to holding customers’ attention and converting searches into sales.”

Martijn Bertisen, Retail Director at Google says the figures indicate that – for the first 3 months of the year at least – “digital continued to drive growth for our UK retailers.”

Regional contrasts

On a regional basis, the analysis reveals some stark contrasts. While there was a slowdown in UK retail searches made from the London area, down 8 percent on Q1 of 2016, searches made in the South West were up 23 percent on Q1 of 2016.

UK retail searches from overseas also remains strong, “with countries as far flung as Estonia and large markets like Germany seeing particularly strong growth,” says Dickinson, who also adds:

“Online sales now consistently make up over a fifth of total retail sales at home, while the appetite for UK brands abroad is clear to see. Satisfying this interest from home and abroad, via computer or smartphone, is the key for UK retailers to make the best of their online offering.”

Average spend via smartphone shopping also up

Meanwhile figures announced a month earlier by IMRG, the UK’s online retail association, reveal that not only are shoppers making more use of mobile devices, but that the average amount spent is also rising.

IMRG managing director Justin Opie says: “Over the past few years we have recorded very strong online retail sales growth through smartphone devices and it seems shoppers are getting more confident about checking out with higher baskets through these devices.”

He suggests that a likely reason for this is that online retailers are paying more attention to making the smartphone versions of their sites as easy to use as possible.

Another reason could be the next-day delivery enticement, he notes, “it has become fairly common for online retailers to offer next-day for free if the total spend is above a set threshold.”