Smartphones influence more than £15bn of in-store retail sales

New research from Deloitte Digital shows that 46% of smartphone owners have used their device for store-related shopping; smartphone use drives higher in-store conversion rates, and the influence is set to increase to more than £35bn of in-store sales by 2016.

Almost half of UK smartphone owners have used their device to research product information before or during a shopping trip, according to new research from Deloitte Digital, the firm’s digital services practice.  As a result, around 6% of in-store retail sales are being influenced by smartphone use, equivalent to £15.2bn of sales this year.  This is almost double the value of direct purchases made through mobiles which are estimated at around £8bn in 2012.  By 2016, more than 80% of consumers are expected to own a smartphone and Deloitte estimates that between 15% and 18% of in-store sales will be smartphone-influenced, equivalent to £35-43bn.

Smartphone usage also appears to increase the conversion rates for retailers.  74% of shoppers that visited a retailer’s mobile website or app during their most recent shopping trip made a purchase, compared with 66% that didn’t, suggesting that investment in new or improved mobile websites and apps that are informative and user-friendly is money well spent. 

David Halstead, TMT partner at Deloitte, said: “The increasing influence of mobile is being driven by higher levels of smartphone ownership, increased adoption by shoppers and improved functionality.  It is rising to the top of many retailers’ agendas.  Its influence is only going to increase so it is very important for retailers to get this right.

“At the same time however, mobile must be considered in conjunction with other shopping channels.  Consumers are researching products using the smartphone, browsing items in-store and then often completing the transaction at home on a laptop or tablet.  Shoppers expect to be able to interact seamlessly with a retailer across all of these channels.  Investment and related targets are required to ensure each channel supports each other and delivers a strong omni-channel experience.”

Mobile is particularly popular in the electronics sector, influencing 10% of UK store sales and is predicted to increase to 30% of sales by 2016.  Convenience stores and supermarkets are less impacted, with only 2.9% and 3.8% of sales influenced, respectively.  However, whilst 64% of smartphone owners have used their device to make a bank payment or pay a bill, just 1% have used their phone to make an in-store payment.

Colin Jeffrey, head of multichannel retail at Deloitte Digital, said: “We would expect smartphones to increasingly be used as a transactional device in the future.  The increased adoption of contactless payment technology will act to accelerate the influence of mobile.  Retailers need to plan for a world where banks of till points are no longer required and prepare to fully exploit the opportunities that mobile presents.”

These figures are mirrored by similar research conducted by Deloitte’s retail practice in the US.  Whilst a smaller proportion of US retail sales are mobile influenced at around 5%, the significantly larger market means that mobile is estimated to influence a staggering $159bn of in-store sales this year.  Deloitte forecasts that by 2016, smartphones are likely to influence between 17% and 21% of US retail purchases, equating to $628-782bn in sales.

Geddes added: “The implications of the influence of mobile are vast and many retailers will be forced to rethink their approach.  In a low growth industry, mobile represents an opportunity for retailers to create a distinctive experience for their customers and take market share.”


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