Mobile: Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

Friday, January 6, 2012 | 3:50 PM

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Over the last year we have noticed several prevailing trends across the online retail landscape. First there was the trend towards social as people found new ways of easily connecting to each other online. While connecting with friends was one element, many retailers used this opportunity to successfully create more personalized relationships with their customers through various social networks.

Second we noticed a shift towards local, most famously embedded in the rise of coupon giant and recent stock floater Groupon and the multitude of daily deal sites that followed. The point here is that customers are looking for information and products that are not only relevant to their interests but also to their location - I want it and I want it here and now...

Lastly, we observed a technological shift that one may argue is more fundamental and fuels the trends in social and local. We are talking about the shift from desktop and laptop Internet use to mobile platforms such as smart phones and tablets. An Ofcom report from August 2011 shows that over a quarter (27%) of UK adults are now smartphone users and that 59% of those users purchased their new device within the last two months[1]. This not only enabled them to be more social and to make use of the device's GPS for finding great deals, but it also encouraged them to browse, search, compare and purchase on the web.

We have tracked this development over previous years and have seen search queries from mobile devices surging, particularly in 2011. Looking back on last year, Christmas is the day that mobile queries experience their annual peak. The most likely reason for this is that consumers are visiting their family and friends and are using their mobile devices to compensate for not having access to their computer. In addition, with phones and tablets being great Christmas presents there are many new mobile devices tested for the first time during the same period, which further amplifies their usage during the festive season.

As seen above, mobile Internet usage in the UK became more dominant during the past two months with weekly peaks on weekends. While mobile queries accounted for 14% of total retail queries this summer, the share increased continuously to reach a record breaking 26% on Christmas Day. Within this overall retail category apparel queries reached 27%, while consumer electronics and home & garden queries had a mobile share of 24% and 26% respectively.

What does this mean? It certainly indicates that mobile has been huge this Christmas and retailers capable of offering a good mobile experience will certainly have benefited. Moreover, it means that we may have reached a tipping point in which mobile has achieved enough momentum to really make a difference. Pleasing the customer across all devices and providing a seamless experience is one of the main challenges for 2012 and we are excited to see how UK retailers will deal with this challenge.

[1]Ofcom, The Communications Market Report, United Kingdom


Online Electronics said...

So much informative blog. I liked it. Good description on mobile retail in UK. I agree with you that UK became more dominant during the past two months with weekly peaks on weekends. Thanks a lot to sharing with us.The world of Consumer Electronics is huge and we've covered a small fraction of it.

Econowall said...

great post, enjoyed it.
we are looking to invest in mobile platforms so it was nice to read some views

parvez said...

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