Has mobile penetration plateaued?

The percentage of online sales completed through mobile devices may have reached a plateau, according to new data published by IMRG and Capgemini.

For the first time, the rate remained stagnant at 42% between Q1 and Q2 2015/16.

On the surface, it looks like sales via mobile devices have stalled, but IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner said this result doesn’t tell the full story.

“While tablets currently account for almost three-quarters of sales through mobile devices, sales growth through smartphones is rising at around four-times the rate of that through tablets and conversion rates on both device types are increasing,” she said.

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“Figures from a number of manufacturers show sales of tablet devices have also slowed – it may be that the next mobile growth spurt will be purely driven by increasing consumer confidence in using smartphones for online shopping.”

IMRG and Capgemini have been measuring smartphone and tablet sales penetration since 2010, when just 0.9% of online sales were completed through these devices. Since then it has risen at a remarkable rate, reaching 37% in 2014.

As it was building from a very low base in 2010, the year-on-year mobile sales growth rates in IMRG and Capgemini’s Mobile Index were initially triple-digit and gradually fell to double-digit, as expected with any fast-growing area.

In recent months, however, there have been signs of normalisation – recording an acceleration in the year-on-year growth rate for several months running compared with the same periods in 2014.

The percentage of visits to retail websites made via mobile devices continues to increase – reaching 60% in Q2 2015/16, up from 58% in the previous quarter.

Capgemini head of digital for consumer products Alex Smith-Bingham said: “The rate of mobile growth has slowed down in recent months, but the trajectory of the last five years has been tremendous. Online sales via mobile devices now equate to 42%, which is a remarkable achievement in such a short period of time and is testament to the central role mobile now plays in our daily shopping journey.

“UK retailers have capitalised on the available consumer technology to create an engaging and reliable experience for their customers. As this technology evolves and is enhanced, so too will our shopping experience as I predict retailers will approach the opportunity with the same level of zeal as they have with mobile devices.”

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