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Smartphones dominate as online retail sales hits new high

Published:  05 March, 2019

In the fast evolving online retail market, sales via smartphone have overtaken both desktop and tablet, and at a time when online grocery retail has reached a new high of £8 billion in the UK.

The latest total till figures from Nielsen show that in-store growth in the grocery sector slowed to +2.5% in February, with consumers spending less per visit, but that the online grocery market continued to grow, up +8% in 2018.

Ease of shopping was cited as the key motivator for shoppers to turn to online purchasing, with implications for drink retailers that are behind the curve when it comes to their online presence.

“Convenience is a key motivator for shoppers who go online to buy food and drink, as well as helping to manage household budgets and being able to save time,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight.

Meanwhile, a separate eRetail quarterly sales index report from Capgemini IMRG confirmed that over 40% of all online sales revenue by UK shoppers was spent via smartphones in the Christmas trading period of November 2018 to January 2019.

UK shoppers are also increasingly using mobile devices for accessing retail sites, accounting for 74.3% of site visits in Q4, according to the IMRG report, with conversion rates to sales currently much lower than tablet or desktop, but growing.

“This is another significant step in smartphones becoming the dominant device through which we manage so many aspects of our lives,” said Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG.

While the Nielsen till figures are based on trends in the multiple grocer market, it appears certain that online sales via smartphone will continue to become an ever more important sales portal for the independent merchant sector too, meaning that websites will need to be designed to best meet mobile criteria if the sector is to compete with other online rivals.

Another aspect of online retail with regard to drinks affects producers, as Harpers has reported before, with the standout appeal and impact of labels becoming more important in the online sphere than on-shelf, with consumers making fast comparisons online.

“The advancements over the last few years in mobile banking, in-app purchases and a greater focus on optimising m-commerce sites have all led to the facilitation and increased confidence in purchasing on smartphones,” said Mulcahy.