While plenty of US retailers have mobile commerce sites or apps, it seems those in the UK have been slower to move into mobile. 

I covered this topic last year, and could only think of three m-commerce sites in the UK, two of which were Amazon and eBay. There are now a few more, but a lot of big names are yet to move into mobile commerce.

Strong growth is predicted for the mobile commerce market, and there are plenty of reasons why a mobile commerce site (or app) can benefit retailers. I've been listing the UK retailers with a mobile presence... 

Some stats from a recent BT Expedite multichannel retailing survey illustrate this point; while 23% of North American retailers have a mobile commerce presence, and 47% plan to, just 5% of UK retailers have m-commerce sites or apps, while 24% are planning to. 

I've listed the UK retailers I know of that have a mobile commerce website or mobile app. If there are any I've missed, leave me a comment... 


Oasis has an iPhone app, which showcases part of the retailers' collection, as well as providing a store locator. It was previously let down by the checkout process, which hadn't been optimised for mobile, but Oasis has recently updated the app, and the new version has solved this problem. 


This is one of the better mobile commerce apps, it shows a limited range of stock, but navigates well, and has a well designed mobile checkout process. 


The electrical retailer has a mobile website rather than an app, though it isn't a transactional site. Instead, users can browse through the product range and reserve items for in-store collection. 


The Next iPhone app was released recently, and it's pretty impressive, with a decent range of stock and a checkout process that makes it easier for mobile users. 


Tesco doesn't have a full m-commerce app or site, but it has introduced three iPhone apps over the last few months; a Clubcard app which users can scan at the checkout, a Store Finder app, and a Wine Finder app, which users can actually place orders from. 

House of Fraser

House of Fraser brought out a Gift Finder app before Christmas, though it is let down by the checkout process. 

Amazon UK

Amazon has a mobile site and an iPhone app, which are similar,though the app has the added bonus of the 'Amazon remembers' feature which allows you to take a photo of a product and find matches from Amazon's range, handy for offline price comparison.

Both site and app have a well designed checkout which has been optimised for mobiles. 

eBay UK

Like Amazon, eBay has both site and app, and the company has proven the value of this channel by generating significant sales through mobile


Interflora has a mobile site which was launched last year; a stripped down version of the main site with a limited range of flowers and gifts. 


Warehouse recently launched an iPhone app, though the mobile commerce part needs some improvement. 

Simply Group

Simply Group has iPhone apps for its various brands, and customers can buy from the apps, though they are routed to the checkout of the main website. 

Barratts Shoes

The Barratts app was introduced recently, and contains some good features, excellent mobile product pages, and even has a changing room where you can match shoes to an outfit by inserting a photo of yourself. The checkout hasn't been optimised though, which means actually buying some shoes is trickier than it could be. 

The common theme here is that retailers seem to be keener to create an iPhone app rather than a mobile site, which would seem a more logical move.

Apps may be flashier and more fashionable, but retailers should consider a mobile website as a starting point for their mobile commerce strategy.

Some of the pros and cons of mobile sites and apps are laid out here, but a site does have the advantage of greater reach by working across a range of handsets and to those people who may be searching for products on their mobiles. 

One barrier to shoppers actually making purchases on their mobile phones is the checkout process. Even on an iPhone, which has a better web browsing experience than many other phones, desktop checkouts can be a usability nightmare. 

So, a checkout that has been optimised for mobile users is vital to help retailers actually drive sales and push up conversion rates from mobiles. There is a significant difference in conversion rates between those apps with optimised checkouts and those without.

Simply linking to the main checkout process from an app is not good enough, and retailers doing this are not likely to drive significant sales via mobile. 

Are you a retailer with a mobile commerce presence? Have I missed any retailers from this list? Let me know below... 

Graham Charlton

Published 13 April, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (8)

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Gerrard Dennis, Managing Director at Simply Scuba

Great post. Certainly we have already started to develop a proper mobile site for the Simply Group stores and a proper iphone friendly checkout for the iphone app. We originally developed the iphone app on a tight budget to see if customers wanted mobile shopping from stores like ours - the answer was and is yes... and growing monthly. I am very happy with the company we are keeping in your list!

over 8 years ago

Daryl Irvine

Daryl Irvine, Digital Creative Director at The Walker Agency

I've had similar experiences with clients setting a small budget initially to "test the waters" but more and more these tests are proving unnecessary and distracting. Analytics data and common sense development inline with the retailer's overall strategy should be enough information to make the business case for at least a mobile development in the first instance (with fully optimised checkout pages).

Commit adequate resource and timeframe for planning from the very beginning and you can achieve a great mobile experience right out of the gate - just keep the offering focused and very, very streamlined. If it works expand on the platform.

over 8 years ago


Ade Bamigboye, CEO at Mobile Flow

One of the reasons why mobile commerce has been slow to take off in the UK is that the early and still widely promoted mobile payment schemes revolve around Premium SMS and PayforIt. Both of these schemes and other well known alternatives are known for their high transaction costs and limits on the “basket size” which make it totally unattractive for most retailers.

Given the predictions in growth for mobile commerce all retailers will have more than a passing interest in mobile commerce. For retailers to adopt mobile commerce more readily and more broadly, secure, cost effective transactional capability must be readily available.

As not every retailer wants to develop their own bespoke solution, the availability of PayPal’s mobile payment library for developers and other payment solutions such as Global Bay and Obopay should provide a boost to retailers wishing to create a good mobile checkout process that fits their business models. 

over 8 years ago

Stephen Thair

Stephen Thair, Director at Seriti Consulting

I would argue that the reason they haven't done it is because there is no ROI in it!

Developing a slick mobile experience takes a substantial amount of time and effort... and for many of the clients I have talked to with the traffic  and the sales revenue generated is so trivial that the ROI is highly negative.

Conversely, take that development effort and use it for performance optimisation and conversion optimisation on the core site = huge ROI.

The iPhone app route appeals to many because (1) its normally isolated from the main site development or outsourced to an agency so it doesn't distract from the core development roadmap (2) its "cool" so a smart CTO can probably con Marketing into paying for it ;-)

The other issue is whether your mobile channel (web or app) actually needs to convert to a mobile sale?

I think that it depends on the market: music, ringtones, digital products probably yes, physical goods I am not so sure...

Anecdotal observation of my own usage patterns and those of friends and colleagues suggests to me that "price comparison" is more important... someone in a store considering purchasing a good or service wants to know "is this a good deal or can I get it cheaper @ Next/Oasis/Pret/eBay etc" and they then make the decision to buy (or not) there and then or mentally say "oh, ok, I can get that cheaper at store XYZ I will pop there now and get it OR I will order online when I get home".

The fulfillment process delay for an online order mediates against the need for immediate purchase for any good or service that cannot be delivered by the phone.

It gets interesting once you take location-based mobile services into account... if you can detect that someone is doing a price comparison search from INSIDE your physical store... then the ability to target them to offer them a discount coupon to ensure that they convert "there and then" and NOT go elsewhere could potentially be very powerful!

over 8 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Hi Stephen, 

I think, to a certain extent, it's a chicken and egg situation in the UK so far. Customers haven't many well-designed mobile sites or apps to buy from so it is harder to show the ROI.

The example of Japan, and to a lesser extent the US, show that there is a huge potential for mobile commerce, and those retailers that establish themselves at this early stage can potentially gain an advantage.

There are barriers, such as ease of payment methods, but these can be overcome, and the more forward thinking retailers should be thinking about the ROI they can get from m-commerce in the long term.  

over 8 years ago

Stephen Thair

Stephen Thair, Director at Seriti Consulting

@GrahamC - M-commerce for digital goods or physical goods? Or m-commerce just as a payment mechanism ("SMS the vending machine for your can of Coke")? I agree that there is an element of chicken&egg in the UK, and that the rapid adoption of larger screen smart phones definitely lowers the barriers to customer adoption by offering a much, much better user experience, and thus that the ROI will begin to improve. I suspect that a key difference between the UK vs JPN/USA market is the overall sophistication of the online offerings... If you are an online vendor that has already optimised your SEO, done multivariate testing to optimise your conversion, invested in your social network channels, optimised your site for performance, done your usability analysis, have sophisticated multichannel advertising and the analytics to track it etc etc... then investing in mobile as you hunt for the next source of marginal revenue makes good sense. The (very interesting!) question is "how many UK online retailers, pureplay or click&mortar, fall into that category and how many are still struggling with mundane issues like performance&scalability?". Sounds like a good topic for a workshop!

over 8 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Hi Stephen - I was thinking in terms of physical goods, though some will do better on mobile than others, Interflora being a good example, since last minute gifts can be ordered by mobile and delivered the same day. 

I think mobile commerce could work for most goods though, especially in combination with product research through other channels. For example, consumers can use the Amazon app to compare its prices against products they have seen in store, find that Amazon and purchase from their mobiles there and then. 

It is a good topic for a workshop though... 

over 8 years ago


tiffany Armband

Wenn mir jetzt noch wer mitteilen könnte, was genau die XID ist, könnt ichs ja wirklich mal ausprobieren ;)Danke und lgSuper! Darauf hab ich lange gewartet ,-)
Und dann auch noch so eaaaasy :)TOP!

over 7 years ago

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