Online shopping overtakes in-store

With the vast majority of people owning at least one device that can access the internet, today’s consumer is truly connected. Although, in the scheme of things smartphones, tablets and ereaders are all relatively new inventions, they are things that consumers have rapidly adopted and integrated into their lives.

This integration is evidenced by the fact that we collectively spend a huge proportion of our time using our devices to access the internet – some 60 days a year on average. It is interesting, however, that while gadgets do absorb a lot of our time they have also allowed us to be more effective at undertaking tasks like shopping. The portability of devices like tablets allows us to do tasks, like grocery shopping, while travelling or waiting around – time that may otherwise be underutilised.

The rise of tablets as a shopping device is evidenced by the fact that 74 per cent of tablet owners use the devices regularly to browse or buy products. Moreover, in terms of the time spent shopping – tablets are the most heavily used device, with those shopping via them spending an average of 72 minutes per day on the devices.

A Conlumino study commissioned by Webloyalty, The Connected Consumer, questioned over 2000 consumers in January 2015 and found that 87 per cent now shop online, compared by 78.3 per cent who shop online. They also spend more time in-store (42.4 minutes versus 24.8 minutes) which may account for its continuing growth in popularity. Nearly three quarters (70.4 per cent) of those surveyed thought technology would make shopping a more convenient experience in the future, with almost two thirds (64.2 per cent) believing that it would make the shopping experience more efficient.

Researchers calculated that total value of personal connected devices in UK households has more than doubled in the last decade, now totalling £33.4 billion after an increase of 108 per cent from £15.8 billion in 2004 – or £1,375 per household.

There is clearly a long way to go before the mobile experience reaches customer expectations.  64.1 per cent of mobile shoppers disagreed with the statement ‘I like to shop via my mobile’.

Despite retailers working hard to offer user-friendly, mobile-optimised websites, consumers prefer to shop via other devices or channels and the majority of online spend is still made via either desktop PCs or laptops. 27 per cent of consumers surveyed stated they almost always used a desktop PC for internet shopping purposes, rising to some 32 per cent for laptop users.

Spend via mobiles is also still relatively low. Even among those using a tablet to shop, it makes up just 28.8 per cent of their online spending. Among those using a mobile to shop,  it on average accounts for only 21 per cent of their online spending. In both cases the majority of spend still goes through more traditional online channels such as PCs and laptops.

The slow pace of change is worth paying attention to, as the focus remains firmly on customer choice and experience. After personalisation, for example, sales increased by nearly 8 per cent. This means a company with a turnover of £849m might grow to nearly £916m.

In fact, a recent announcement by John Lewis said that its click and collect service far outstripped its home delivery by the end of 2014, emphasising the importance of offering customers choice.  56 per cent of John Lewis’s online customers chose to collect their goods from stores, rather than have them delivered to home addresses. Overall, click and collect orders grew by 47  per cent compared to the same time last year. John Lewis online orders rose by 21.6 per cent to £1.4 billion.