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The majority of the UK's most popular online retailers have adopted mobile commerce, with just 12 of the top 50 having no mobile commerce presence at all. 

These stats show how far mobile commerce has progressed over the past year in the UK, and that many retailers have seen the potential revenues to be had from mobile. 

I've been looking at some great examples of retailers on mobile, which of the top 50 have sites and apps, and why some travel brands should consider their mobile strategies. 

How many of the top 50 UK retailers have a mobile site or app? 

Last week, I wrote about some stats from our Conversion Rate Optimisation report, which showed that 70% of companies had not optimised their sites for mobile.  

The respondents were from a broad range of companies in terms of both annual turnover and sector, though retail was the most popular sector (19% of respondents). 

I thought I'd look at mobile commerce adoption in the retail sector and, using the IMRG / Experian Hitwise Hot Shops list, which shows the most popular online retailers by traffic, I've been seeing who has a mobile site or an app, or both. 

The results: 

(Since Tesco, Amazon and ASDA have two entries each, it's really a top 47) 

  • 36 of the top 47 retailers on the list have either a mobile optimised website or a smartphone app. 
  • 21 of the 47 have both sites and apps. 
  • 9 have just apps, while 6 have a mobile site and no apps. 

Five of the best

Here are five retailers that are getting mobile right...

Amazon

Amazon covers all bases with its mobile strategy, with a mobile version of its website, as well as iPhone and Android apps. It also adapted mobile early, and has achieved some impressive sales figures, making $1bn from mobile sales in 2010. 

The site works well, while the app features a barcode scanner and the 'Amazon remembers' tool, which allows users to take a photo of a product, which Amazon then uses to find a match from its stock. 

Crucially, the site is easy to use, and it also works as a great offline shopping comparison tool. Amazon may not have a bricks and mortar presence, but its apps, combined with competitive pricing, extends its reach to the high street. 

Tesco

Tesco also has a mixture of mobile sites and apps, as well as an iPad recipes app.

Its mobile site allows users to shop from its various departments, and also contains a useful store finder, while the groceries app, thanks to a barcode scanning feature, makes it easy for customers to compile their shopping lists. 

Thetrainline

The actual Trainline website can be annoying at times, but I find its mobile apps very useful indeed. 

It's easy to check journey times and ticket prices (though information on delays etc is missing), while the recent addition of ticket purchasing via mobile is a big plus.

A mobile optimised version of the site, for those customers who haven't downloaded the apps, would be useful though, as would the ability to redeem tickets via mobile barcodes, something Eurostar recently introduced (though in the case of Thetrainline this is down to the rail operators). 

ASOS

The ASOS mobile site is an excellent example of how it should be done, with a simple layout, detailed product pages, and a smooth checkout process. 

Since launching the mobile site ASOS mobile sales have risen by more than 800% in 12 months. It has also perfomed well in user testing.

Argos

Argos doesn't actually sell via mobile, but its Check and Reserve app allows customers to check stock in local stores and pick up the same day. 4% of its sales come via mobile phones, which equates to around £2.6m per week. 

The app is very usable, as is its mobile site, but I wonder how many more sales Argos could drive via mobile if it introduced mobile checkout. 

Retailers that really should have a mobile site (or app)

Play.com sits at number six in the top 50 list, which indicates high levels of web traffic to the site, yet the company has done nothing around mobile so far. 

It was ranked the number one mobile website in a baffling user study last year, and it may be generating some sales via mobile thanks to the combination of a reasonably usable website and persistent customers. 

However, the site when viewed on a mobile, is very cluttered and navigating round the site and negotiating the checkout requires a lot of effort from users. 

Play.com should follow the advice of our Mobile Websites and Apps Optimisation Guide, identify the levels of mobile traffic, the most popular devices accessing the site, and design a site or app for mobile. 

Currys

It's odd that such a well known multichannel retailer should have no mobile site or app (nor does PC World). A retailer of electronics presumably has a reasonably tech-savvy customer base with a decent proportion accessing the site via mobile. 

An app or mobile site would provide a useful link between web and offline, and could potentially drive a decent proportion of sales. 

Also, many rival retailers selling electronics (Argos, Amazon, and Comet) have mobile sites or apps. Here's the homepage of Currys on a mobile: 

Now compare it to rival Comet. Its site allows users to browse the full product range and buy via mobile or reserve for in store collection. 

Other m-commerce refuseniks from the top 50 list included SportsDirect, Matalan, and travel firms such as Thomas Cook, Thomson, Ryanair and First Choice. 

Cinemas making most of mobile 

All three of the cinema websites that made the top 50 lists, Cineworld, Vue and Odeon, have both mobile sites and apps. 

By providing listings, and the ability to book and pay for tickets via mobile, these companies can pick up extra business, something which would work equally well for other leisure businesses. 

Travel industry not so keen on mobile

Of the 10 travel brands on the list, just four have some sort of mobile site or app. This may be because these brands believe that people will not make such expensive (and potentially complex) purchases via mobile. 

However, there are plenty of reasons why customers would use mobile for travel. Apps or sites that allow customers to book hotel rooms and flights are an obvious example, but travel brands could also create useful mobile services such as local destination guides, maps and translator tools. 

For our Multichannel Customer Experience Report, we asked customers about their use of mobile for travel research and purchases. We found that just 7% use mobile for researching travel products, while 4% have made a purchase. 

Within the last six months, have you booked a flight, hotel or holiday in any of the following ways?

Clearly, the use of mobile for travel research and purchases is a minority activity at the moment, but that can partly be attributed to the lack of mobile investment by travel brands.

Also, ours was a very general sample, but higher income and more tech-savvy customer groups may be more likely to book hotels or flights by mobile.

For example, the percentage of consumers that have booked travel products on their mobiles rises to 7.6% for the £40,000 to £69,000 income bracket, and to 7.5% for the possibly more tech-savvy 18 to 34 age group. 

Other stats suggest that travel brands should be paying more attention to mobile. For example 19.5% of search queries relating to hotels are made via mobile, while according to eyefortravel, the number of mobile travel bookings has grown from $20m in 2008 to more than $200m in 2010.

According to Amadeus, 16% of smartphone users are booking flights via mobile. 

Of the top 50, while brands like Thomas Cook and easyJet have no mobile sites or apps, four of the ten travel firms in this list, Thetrainline, lastminute.com, Expedia and Travelodge, have a site or app. 

Expedia seems to have paid most attention to mobile, with a well designed mobile site, and a hotel booking app. Mobile accounts for 4% of all visits to Expedia.com, and sales via this channel increased fivefold between 2009 and 2010. 

Mobile also allows Expedia to target last minute bookings. On its hotels app and mobile site, more than 50% of bookings are made in the same location, and on the same day

These stats show how mobile can work for travel brands, and those yet to launch a mobile site should be looking at their mobile visitor stats and thinking about launching a mobile site or app before more of their competitors do. 

Graham Charlton

Published 7 November, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Barney Larkin

Hi Graham. This is a really useful blog piece, thanks for posting. I'd love to get hold of the full research you've put together if possible? I can aim our BD team off at the postentials. We'd love to create a fully functioning mobile site for a client using data-feeds...

over 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Barney,

The research consists of a notepad with my scribblings all over it! I just took the Hitwise list and searched for each on my mobile, on App Store, Google etc.

I was just looking for a snapshot of where the bigger retailers are with m-commerce. I may do some more detailed research in future.

over 4 years ago

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Robert Isaacs

Hi Graham. Another really good article.

I think it will be very interesting to follow the changes in Mobile Commerce over the next 12 months. Looking specifically at retail, I believe that when all of the major supermarkets have entered the space, we will witness a large surge.

Additionally, more and more industries are not just recognising the value and importance, but companies are starting to ensure their employees put some serious thought into their mobile strategy.

What are your thoughts on how the iPad will affect Mobile Commerce?

over 4 years ago

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Craig Sullivan, Customer Experience Manager at Belron International

Hi,

Good article and I note the huge expansion recently in sites offering both an app and a mobile experience, to capture, route and convert mixed platform visitor activity.

We now have over 20% of our business in some key markets (visitors, revenue or both) coming from mobile optimised sites. Our apps also do well but a high speed optimised site works wonders with all that google traffic.

I think econsultancy should establish some sort of index of mobile. My report contains a heap of great sites you should include in any further reporting - as some of them offer awesome mobile experiences *with a browser*.

C.

over 4 years ago

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Southerland

I every time spent my half an hour to read this website's content every day along with a mug of coffee.

about 4 years ago

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Foote

Yes! Finally something about travel.

about 4 years ago

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Stricklin

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article on our website. Keep up the good writing.

almost 4 years ago

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almost 4 years ago

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almost 4 years ago

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