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Mobile shopping searches grow 168% in Q3

M-commerce continues to grow at a faster pace than traditional shopping, as total retail search volumes increased by 35 per cent in the third quarter, it was announced today.

Mobile search volumes drove this rise, increasing by 168 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y), according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The BRC-Google online retail monitor found that both multichannel and pure online retailers saw an increase in searches, reporting a jump of 26 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.

Peter Fitzgerald, Retail Director of Google explained the results, saying: “Retail searches on desktop rose by 35 per cent y-o-y in Q3, with mobile growing by 168 per cent y-o-y.

“Home & garden saw strong growth in July, while it was back-to-school searches which fuelled the August increase, with consumer electronics in particular seeing phenomenal growth in ‘tablet’ searches. September also saw an uplift, as Christmas gift related searches began to appear.

This is unsurprising given that many consumers are Christmas shopping earlier this year, in order to spread the cost and avoid disruption due to bad weather.

International searches for UK retailers also saw a massive uplift last quarter, as countries already originating large volumes of searches such as Russia, Pakistan and Mexico saw increases of between 90 per cent and 300 per cent y-o-y.”

Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC, believes that economic pressures led many consumers to search online ahead of a purchase to ensure a fair deal. “Mounting pressures on household budgets may be generating more online retail searches as people work harder to compare prices and track down value,” he said.

“While searches grew 35 per cent, their fastest this year, the BRC’s Retail Sales Monitor show growth in online spending has actually slowed to ten per cent suggesting extra searches are a symptom of bargain hunting.

“Even so, online retailing is still expanding quickly compared with selling through stores and searching from mobile devices is showing the most dramatic increase.

“Retailers are engaging with, and encouraging, this shift in shopping behaviour by providing more and easier ways to search and shop via smartphones and tablets.”

British consumers are set to spend £19.3 billion a year using their mobile phones and tablets within the next ten years, compared with £1.3 billion spent today, according to the research.

The convenience of amending shopping lists, making payments and arranging delivery times via mobile means food and groceries remain the most popular ‘on the go’ mobile purchase, reporting sales of around £300 million for supermarkets and grocery stores this year.

By 2021 this figure is expected to top £5 billion, as the company predicts that m-commerce will enjoy growth of 55 per cent in the next five years, the fastest of any retail channel.

Richard Lowe, Head of Retail & Wholesale at Barclays Corporate, believes that growth is inevitable as consumer confidence in mobile shopping continues to grow.

“M-commerce is still a relatively niche channel accounting for 0.5 per cent of total retail spend,” he explained.

“However, with little new shop space coming into play the real growth opportunities lie on the virtual high street and those retailers which are prepared to invest will be at a significant advantage to the competition.”

Argos, Tesco, Asda and Next are among the ten most visited websites via mobile, though Barclays Corporate is quick to point out that this does not mean the end of the traditional high street.

Source : Gemma Taylor – Retail Gazette

17 October 2011
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