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Mobile retailing: it’s not just for technology and books

by Oliver Schmitz , 30.07.2014

M-commerce is well established in a number of sectors, but retailers in other categories have been slower to adopt it. As more people turn to smartphones to research and buy, what should retailers do to catch up? One upcoming category is DIY where m-commerce is currently at a low level compared to other sectors, but our research shows that the rate of growth is increasing. In the UK there was a 37% jump in reach for mobile DIY sites between February and March 2014, so it’s a good time for retailers to take time out to plan their mobile strategy – not only those currently without a m-commerce offer, but those in the early stages of their approach.

Always on
Almost seven in ten (68%) of all Europeans currently have internet access via their smartphone*. Based on our Retail Sales Panel, we predict sales of mobile devices including tablet and smartphone to grow by another 27% in Europe in 2014, giving retailers yet more opportunities to reach their customers directly through their mobile. When you realize that the average smartphone owner uses their device 40 times a day**, it becomes clear that reaching consumers through this almost ubiquitous, always-on device is going to be increasingly important for all retailers.

A highly desirable target group
Using GfK’s Mobile Insights data, we’re able to see the role of mobile in the UK retail market. Here more than half (54%) of smartphone users visits at least one retail site from their mobile each month. In general, the younger generation tends to adopt mobile retail earlier. People who have already visited and purchased from their mobile have a high net income, and spend more on average - and in total - on almost any non-food category than the average buyer. According to GfK´s Consumer Panel, people who have already purchased non-food items via their mobile device spend twice as much in these categories in total than average buyers. This suggests that even if the reach of sites via mobile is low at the moment – as it is in the DIY and other categories such as furniture, household goods and fashion – the mobile customer is a highly desirable affluent shopper.

Research from GfK´s FutureBuy study provides further compelling reasons for retailers to have a mobile strategy. In 2013, amongst shoppers in Western Europe purchasing online, 10% did so from a smartphone in store and 8% from a tablet in store. This is particularly relevant for those retailers that sell items that are large, or heavy, or cumbersome, or have a large inventory. Shoppers want to see the item, but to use a mobile site or app to purchase online with home delivery included.

Thinking ‘mobile first’
With smartphone penetration growing so rapidly, we believe retailers should be thinking ‘mobile first’ as they plan their integrated online strategy, rather than about fixed line access via a PC or laptop. GfK’s Mobile Insights can tell retailers the time of day and week that people access the different retail sites from their mobile and this can be used to develop strategies to maximize the purchase journey. For instance, in the UK the most common time to access a mobile DIY site is 11am to 3pm on a Saturday. Knowing this can help retailers plan special offers and incentives to convert lookers to buyers.

Mobile offers huge potential to enhance and improve the shopping experience for customers. It can drive customer loyalty and repeat custom by offering payment solutions and loyalty rewards through mobile wallet. Mobile apps can improve the in-store experience as well as other facilities such as ordering online from inside the shop with incentives such as free delivery included. By understanding what other sites your customers visit, it can help identify targets for partnerships with other frequently visited websites.

There are sectors like the DIY that may have been slow to grasp mobile as a way to reach the customer, but with so many opportunities to maximize it, this looks set to change. The key to success is in thinking ‘mobile first’.

* International Telecommunications Union
**National Retail Federation

For more information please contact Oliver Schmitz, Account Director Online Retailer at oliver.schmitz@gfk.com.