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Mobile penetration falls for first time this decade / IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmark

The percentage of online retail sales made through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) fell in Q1 2016*, according to the latest results from the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmark – the first time a decrease has been recorded since tracking started in 2010.

Just under half (49.6%) of online retail sales were completed through mobile devices during Q1 2016, compared with 51.3% in the previous quarter. There was also a slight fall in the percentage of visits to online retail sites through mobile devices – at 64.6% in Q1 2016, down from 65.6% in Q4 2015.

This fall is likely to have been influenced by a marked split that has been recorded in growth rates on tablets and smartphones recently. While sales through smartphones were up +83% in April for example, growth in sales through tablet devices slowed down to a record low of just +3%.

There was also a continuation of a recent trend, with the percentage of click & collect orders for multichannel retailers remaining steady at 22% in Q1 – this is unchanged from Q4 2015 and has been consistently around this mark for around a year now.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, IMRG: “Back in 2010 mobile devices accounted for less than 1% of online retail sales and this increased rapidly over a few years to exceed 50% in the last quarter.

However, these latest results appear to track the effects of some displacement activity we are seeing in relation to sales made through mobile devices. While the majority of these sales still come through tablets, shoppers are increasingly using their smartphones in situations where they would previously have used a tablet – the screen sizes have become larger, retailers have focused on optimising the experience for smartphone users and consumers are becoming increasingly confident in using these devices for a wide range of activities.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, Management Consultant in Retail Customer Engagement Design, Capgemini: “It’s surprising to see that mobile sales have decreased in the first quarter of 2016 when compared with the last quarter. This is predominantly due to tablet penetration which we have seen tailing off.  We would usually expect this to be offset by a rise of sales on smartphones, particularly given the number of ‘phablets’ now in the market, but this hasn’t occurred to such an extent.

“Regardless, it’s pleasing to see that traffic to retail sites from mobile devices remained fairly steady. What we’re also seeing is that people are spending even more time on their mobile than in the previous quarter, so there is certainly a huge opportunity for retailers. To capitalise on this, retailers should focus on executing a mobile lead shopping experience – one which enhances the in-store journey and offers the same features as shopping on a desktop computer.”