M-commerce reaching tipping point


Sales and metrics this year suggest that shopping via mobiles, or m-commerce, is about to reach its tipping point, according to retail technology experts.

This makes it imperative that customer-facing businesses get their m-commerce strategies and technologies in place to capitalise on one of the very few areas of retail sales growth.

Within the last year, there has been a 10 per cent increase in the numbers of UK mobile users who have used their smartphones to research a purchasing decision or make a purchase. And the average transaction has risen from 12.10 to 17.49.

According to figures compiled by the Internet Advertising Bureau, and shared with delegates to the direct commerce ECMOD trade show in London today by Mick Rigby founder of specialist agency Yodel Mobile, mobile is the only retail channel capable of double digit growth.

"Within the last year, there has been a 10 per cent increase in the numbers of UK mobile users who have used their smartphones to research a purchasing decision or make a purchase," he said. "And the average transaction has risen from 12.10 to 17.49."

Geoffrey Barraclough, director of strategy, marketing and propositions for BT's retail IT division BT Expedite, added that retail clients on its Fresca e-commerce platform were typically seeing 10 to 15 per cent of e-sales coming through their mobile site or app channels.

He said orders made via the Fresca platform peaked last year around the same time as they did earlier this week, for "Cyber Monday," the traditional kick-off to the festive online shopping season that follows the last pay day before Christmas, but with a 75 per cent year-on-year increase.

"Some people call it Cyber or Magic Monday," he said. "I don't think mobile has a huge role to play yet. But our retail clients made it magic by launching promotions on that day.

However, he added: "This channel is starting to become profitable. As soon as payment systems improve, I think it will become a key channel. I predict that, while some of our clients already have a mobile-optimised site, all of them will develop one next year."

Will Dymott, e-commerce director of fashion retailer Lyle & Scott, shared the successes of the mobile-optimised site it first developed with BT Expedite 18 months ago.

Dymott said the retailer opted for a mobile site as opposed to an app, as it "didn't want to restrict access to one or two platforms".

Since then, it has experienced a 115 per cent increase share of online traffic to Lyle & Scott online that comes via mobiles, 50 per cent of which were Apple iPhones.

"We direct tablet traffic to the full e-commerce site," he added. "As it's easier to access via their bigger screens. With the mobile-optimised site, we made sure we kept it simple. Remember that visitors scroll using their finger, not a mouse, so make sure you're buttons are nice and big.

"Search is also the best way of navigating the site and we don't relay too much on zoom functionality to be mindful of bandwidth considerations."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.