Consumers are expected to spend more than £87bn online this year as mobile devices and tablets offer consumers new opportunities to browse and purchase, but the IMRG says lifestyle shifts towards digital mean online retail should no longer be regarded as a separate channel.
Online sales increased 17.5 per cent year on year to £9.4bn in December, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. Sales growth throughout 2012 reached 14 per cent as consumers spent £78bn online.
Sales through mobile devices increased 304 per cent in 2013 over the previous year, according to IMRG and now £1 in every £8 spent online comes via mobile or tablet devices.
More than 13 per cent of online sales now come through mobile devices - up from 0.4 per cent in 2010, and almost a quarter (23.6 per cent) of all visits to online retailers comes through mobile - up from 1.4 per cent in 2010.
The influence of mobile is expected to continue to be a major factor in sales but conversely, when compared to recent years, conversion rates on mobile dropped during November and December.
The drop suggests consumers are using mobile more for research and then go on to make the purchase either in store or online via a desktop.
While IMRG expects online retail sales to grow 12 per cent in 2013, Andrew McClelland, chief operations officer at IMRG told Marketing Week that the “digitisation of consumers” and shift in culture means that online retail sales should no longer be seen as a separate discipline from the rest of retail. Instead retailers should focus on the overall proposition they offer across channels.
Retail observers say a key factor for retailers will be whether they can help consumers continue shopping journeys between channels by remembering items added to shopping baskets between mobile devices, tablets and desktops.
McClelland adds: “Retail sites can be accessed through a range of devices and in a range of contexts, whether during a commute, in-store or increasingly in front of the TV. Consumers are going to carry out a lot of research prior to making a purchase, so in order to secure their custom the challenge to retailers is around providing both the value and the experience that will make them stand out from the competition.”