"There's no place like home"
For mobile shopping, that is.
With 18.3 million consumers in the U.K. estimated to regularly shop on a mobile device, there's a lot at stake for the retailers rushing to revamp their mobile strategies. And with more and more consumers turning toward their smartphones and tablets for shopping while at home and on the couch, there's possibly more screen time for retailers to catch the attention of those mobile-friendly consumers.
In new research from Barclays, the stats show that the Brits are heavy mobile shoppers and the region is poised for significant growth when it comes to using devices as their key tool to buy online. But what does that mean for the potential of the U.K. retail market?
It depends who decides to tune in and revamp their mobile strategies.
“We’re seeing more and more consumers take to their mobile devices to make their everyday shopping decisions on the go. The rise of the mobile shopper brings with it huge opportunities for businesses that are willing to embrace the digital revolution and appeal to this growing market," Richard Lowe, Managing Director and Head of Retail & Wholesale at Barclays, said in a news release about the research report.
He also pointed toward emerging technologies in the market, such as the rise of the wearables market, which in the U.S. market is expected to increase by 34 percent in 2015.
Keeping up with the evolving needs of the U.K.'s savvy shoppers is key to staying relevant in the online market, said Lowe, who specifically mentioned Apple's latest smart product.
"The winners will be those that evolve to meet the needs of Britain’s shoppers. With new gadgets and technology emerging such as Apple Watch, we are seeing a change in the way consumers want to access online on the go, in addition to a rise in mobile payment innovation, which is another area we forecast will rise," he said.
So if more consumers are turning toward mobile in the U.K., how are the retailers keeping up? Barclays' research shows that while consumers are hot on mobile, retailers are still cold on connecting their mobile strategies to consumers' needs.
The Barclays study shows that U.K.-based consumers — who currently spend $14.4 billion a year on mobile retail transactions — are predicted to spend nearly $79.6 billion annually on such purchases by 2024. But that same study shows a majority of U.K. retailers are not presently prepared to take full advantage of such growth.
Although nearly half (46 percent) of retailers surveyed claim a portion of their sales are currently generated via mobile devices, less than 3 percent express complete confidence that their business is mobile ready. Furthermore, 70 percent of retailers report that they do not currently have in place a mobile website or offer a consumer-facing mobile app. And 68 percent also revealed that they don't have a mobile adoption plan in place.
Lowe suggested that retailers' perception that mobile won't generate sales and could cannibalize its own storefront efforts is a misguided one.
“There is also a lingering notion that mobile shopping is bad for store retailing. The physical high street store still has a fundamental role to play and the development of hybrids such as click and collect has conclusively demonstrated that stores can be supported rather than hindered by the growth of digital commerce," he said. "Inevitably practices such as ‘showrooming’ leads to some sales shifting online but, with almost three quarters of consumers using their mobile devices whilst out and about, ignoring this trend would be a missed opportunity. Retailers must cater for the mobile consumer in order to remain relevant.”
And just to show what staying relevant may mean in the mobile and digitally-driven U.K. shopping populations, consider these stats about how many of those pounds are being used while mobile shopping.
By The Billions | How Much U.K. Consumers Are Spending On Mobile
- £2.3 billion ($3.4B) | The amount spent on mobile devices in 2014 on clothing
- £2.6 billion ($3.86B) | The amount spent on mobile for food and groceries
- £7.8 billion ($11.58B) | Barclays' forecast of mobile shopping for clothing in the next five years
- £8.8 billion ($13.07B) | Barclays' forecast of mobile shopping for food/groceries in the next five years
- £53.6 billion ($79.61B) | Amount the U.K. mobile shopping market is expected to be worth in the next 10 years
By The Percentages | How, Where And Why U.K. Consumers Are Going Mobile
According to Barclays, 18.3 million Brits are turning toward mobile regularly for shopping.
So, of these 18.3 million Brits, how are they using their mobile devices to shop?
Wonder no more.
Male Vs. Female
15 Percent (v. 26 Percent) | Male consumers who used mobile to buy clothes compared to female consumers who use mobile to buy clothes, respectively.
Interestingly, the stats also show that women are tuned into their smartphones more, with nearly a third of consumers saying they use their mobile device at least three hours more than men on weekends. Generally, men say they are turning to mobile to buy clothing, electronics, music and books. Women say they are more likely to use their smartphones to shop for clothing, books and shoes.
Tablets Vs. Smartphones
- 36 percent | U.K. residents using smartphones for shopping online
- 19 percent | Tablet owners who turn to smartphones over tablets for shopping
- 43 percent | Tablet owners who turn to tablets over smartphones for shopping
With their larger screens and better ability to zoom in on specific features, it's not shocking that the majority of mobile shoppers are turning toward tablets over smartphones for shopping. And with an estimated 50 percent of U.K. consumers owning tablets (a figure that has doubled in the past two years), it's expected that more consumers will continue turning toward mobile. Also, since the stats show more are shopping at home on their smartphones, tablets seem to be a more logical shopping choice.
How Much And How Are Consumers Turning Toward Mobile?
- 24 percent | Consumers age 18-24 who spend 7+ hours on their mobile device
- 84 percent | Consumers who use their devices to shop at home (The Top 3 spots are in bed, on the couch or in the kitchen)
- 58 percent | Consumers who shop on their smartphone while watching TV
While the perk of mobile shopping is that consumers can do it while on the go, it seems the stats show that people like to shop most while they're actually at home. And even more interesting, consumers like to buy on mobile while watching TV.
Through mobile devices, the shopping experience that some consumers view as a hobby has been virtually merged with another lounging pastime. Moreover, consumers catching those commercials in-between their favorite shows may tune more into mobile shopping for those top advertised retailers. Also noteworthy is where people are shopping on mobile, with many selecting in bed or on the couch. But the kitchen also seems to be a popular spot for mobile shopping.
Some key stats about smartphone owners and how those users are using their devices might give a clue into future trends. Consider these stats.
Who Owns Smartphones And What Are they Used For?
- 34 percent | Consumers who turn to mobile to research products
- 41 percent | Consumers who turn to mobile for compare/check prices
- 56 percent | Consumers who say mobile shopping saves them time
- 61 percent | U.K. consumers who owned a smartphone in 2014
- 75 percent | U.K. smartphone owners estimated by 2019
To put those figures and percentages into even more context, consider this comparison Barclays used when presenting its findings.
"If you were to equate mobile sales in terms of store numbers, in five years’ time it would require a chain of around 30,000 stores, nearly three times the size of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, which has 11,000 outlets worldwide," the release stated. "Within the next decade, the number of stores required will rise to nearer 48,000."
Clearly, mobile shopping has made its mark among U.K. consumers.