UK consumers are far ahead of Europe in terms of using smartphones for online shopping.

Out of 18 European countries surveyed, the UK has the highest percentage of people who make a monthly purchase on their smartphones, with 32%. This is compared to just 8% in France, 15% in Germany and 19% in Sweden.

These findings come from the latest TNS research commissioned by Google, which explores the growing importance of online platforms in the consumer journey, from research to purchase. 

The research also looks more broadly at internet usage across devices. Here is the online state of the UK in 2014, compared to last year: 

The study surveyed a minimum of 1,000 adults in 18 European countries, from January to February 2014, and February to March 2013. 

  • Smartphone usage has increased to 68% in 2014, from 62% in 2013.
  • Adults that have purchased online increased to 77% in 2014, up from 72% in 2013.
  • 83% of online surveyed consumers use the internet daily in 2014, up from 75% in 2013.
  • 64% of online consumers use the internet several times a day in 2014, up from 57% in 2013.
  • Watching online video content has risen to 66% of respondents in 2014, from 61% in 2013.
  • Adults visiting social networks has increased to 72% in 2014, from 64% in 2013.

It’s easy to see why there’s an increase year-on-year with regards to mobile shopping. As the online smartphone experience improves, with better mobile sites and responsive design, mobile users are now realising that it’s increasingly easier to use a smaller device to research products than it was only a year or two ago.

That being said, conversion rates from smartphones remain far lower than on desktop and tablet.

Users may well be researching on the handy smartphone that’s at an arm’s reach at all times of the day but more than 40% of online adults are multi-device users, who will abandon the smartphone for a larger display as soon as it comes to purchase.

The low conversion rates are mirrored by high abandonment rates, with data from remarketing firm Cloud.IQ showing that during January the abandonment rate for smartphone users on ecommerce sites was 84%, compared to 72% on tablet and 68% on desktop.

More than half (57%) of smartphone owners have also used their device to search for information while out shopping, according to data from our Mobile Commerce Compendium.

With most shoppers using their smartphones to compare prices (63%), look for a discount vouchers (42%) and looking for product information or other options on a different retailer’s website (34%).

For a guide on how to boost conversions on smartphones, read David Moth’s article Checkout abandonment: mobile UX examples to help boost conversions.

For best practice tips and case studies for improving the mobile commerce user experience and ideas for how mobile can be used as part of a broader multichannel strategy, download our Mobile Commerce Compendium.