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UK online shoppers now buying more from smartphones than any other device

Tom Bottomley
05 March 2019

Over 40% of online sales were made through smartphones in Q4 of 2018/19, according to new quarterly data from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

It means smartphones have now overtaken the share of online sales from desktops for the first time, in what is seen as a growing trend. Online shopping from tablets has also been usurped by smartphone spending, and Q4 also posted a record high for the percentage of online traffic through smartphones.

Although smartphones came in as the dominant device for buying online in Q4 at 40.4%, which covers the traditional retail quarter of November, December and January, desktops still came in at 39.7%, with purchases from tablets at 19.9%.

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

“It has taken a little while though, as the iPhone was first released in 2007, and for a long time people were visiting product pages through smartphones in large numbers but then completing purchases elsewhere. It wasn’t until late 2015 when it started to really gain traction as a fully transactional device for online shopping.”

According to Mulcahy though, this does not spell the end of other devices being used for online retail purchases, as people tend to use multiple devices depending on which is most convenient. For example, during working hours a higher proportion of sales come through desktops as people are sat in front of their computers at work.

Lucy Gibbs, senior consultant in retail analytics at Capgemini Invent, commented: “Smartphones make it is easier than other forms to be truly omnichannel, which is about being where your customers are, and therefore are optimally placed for influencing the retail customer journey.”

Growing confidence in using smartphones for online banking and shopping has no doubt played a major factor in the rise in usage. Gibbs added: “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.”

A further milestone was reached in December 2018, where smartphones accounted for over 70% of mobile device sales for the first time, with the other 30% spent through tablets.

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