It’s no secret that the UK has become a smartphone society, with over 80% of UK adults now owning a device.

Along with the growth of wearables and tablets, this means that consumers have access to a wide array of gadgets to get online wherever and whenever they want.

The UK has also seen evolution in the way consumers are browsing, researching and purchasing products, which has opened up new opportunities for retailers looking for additional revenue opportunities.

Whilst the daily commute was once a time to read the newspaper, listen to your Walkman or take a nap, the rise of online devices has transformed what we do on the bus or train.

The introduction of Wi-Fi into a number of lines on the London Underground has led to 39% of passengers making purchases on the tube.

A recent study estimates that the UK is now spending £9.3bn a year online shopping while on public transport, making it one of the most valuable times of the day for ecommerce.

Clearly there is no shortage of opportunities to engage customers, but the challenge for brands comes in understanding how they should be adapting to meet the needs of the multi-device consumer to ensure they are in the best position to secure sales.

Recognise the role of smartphones

While smartphone ownership continues to be on the rise, its usage is changing. 54% of consumers are using the device more frequently to make purchases in comparison to last year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is most prevalent amongst the younger generation, with 65% of 16-24 year olds shopping more via their phone.

For retailers, having mobile optimised sites is absolutely crucial. Consumers have access to so much choice that a poor mobile experience could lead shoppers to abandon their browsing and shop with a competitor that meets their multichannel expectations.

iphone

Don’t discount traditional devices

Whilst we are becoming ever more mobile, traditional devices still hold a role for customers, particularly when it comes to making a purchase.

In fact, more sales are still being completed via laptop (58%) than smartphone (37%), so be mindful to reflect this in your ecommerce strategy. In addition to laptops, desktops are still used for shopping by 41% of consumers over 55; a valuable source of revenue given that this age group tends to have a higher disposable household income.

Staying close to customers and using data insights to understand how they are using their devices will help signpost how and when you should be communicating with them. This will enable you to create the simplest path to purchase.

Make the experience seamless 

UK shoppers are using multiple devices for browsing but when it comes to making the actual purchase, they rely on a smaller number of gadgets.

On average, consumers are using 2.7 devices to get online, but only 1.6 devices to make a purchase, highlighting the importance in delivering a consistent and seamless experience that allows them to move between devices.

Remarketing strategies such as cart and browse abandonment reminder emails play a critical role, allowing you to re-engage customers who leave your website with the potential intention to complete the purchase later on a different device. 

Of course, brands must remain mindful of integrating the online- with the in-store experience. Research shows that whilst 22% of UK consumers have shopped less in physical stores in the last year, 26% have shopped more frequently.

Location-based email tactics can be particularly valuable in connecting online and offline. For example, when you recommend products based on the customer’s browse behaviour, include information on item availability in the closest local store. Perhaps even include a special offer to encourage them to visit that shop. 

store

Keep tracking evolving behaviours

As technology continues to evolve, so will consumer shopping behaviour. Ensure you are in sync with how your customers are browsing and purchasing.

For example, research has shown that wearables are currently owned by just 5% of the population, but that 30% of owners have shopped via their wearable more frequently in the last year. So be flexible to adapt to your customers and continually identify innovative ways to meet their shopping needs. 

Consumers today are spoilt for choice when it comes to how, when and where they shop. With the multi-device consumer come multiple opportunities for you to engage them and drive revenue growth.

However, the benefit of this expanding device universe will only be realised if you have a clear understanding of individual shopping behaviour and can adapt accordingly.

It comes down to making effective use of customer data to deliver the seamless experience that customers have now come to expect.