Why retailers cannot ignore the growing authority of mobile shopping

December 23, 2016

They say that with the invention of the smartphone, we have the wealth of human knowledge in our pocket. By that same sentiment, we also have the global high-street. As the number of mobile users overtakes those using desktop, there is – now more than ever – a need for retailers to take this touch point seriously. Research Director, Crispin Boon, explores the results of Maru/edr’s latest eRetail benchmark to find out who is leading the mCommerce race.

Rewind eight-and-a-half years ago, when in May 2008 it was boldly predicted that mobile would – in terms of global users – overtake desktop by 2014. Now – as the curtain is closing on 2016 – the latest IMRG report shows that that prediction has been realised.

In the UK, over half of traffic to retail sites now comes via smartphones and tablets. Four years ago, that was just 3%.

When you get a 2000% increase on anything, people tend to sit up and take note. That’s why we’ve seen a marked interest from retailers in dedicating resources to improving their online mobile experience.

Mark Lewis, the Online Director at John Lewis, said: “We’ve placed a significant focus on developing our mobile strategy and have more enhancements planned for our app later this year.”

“Mobile,” he continues, “is now the go-to choice alongside visiting our shops.”

But has this push shown any noticeable improvement?

John Lewis Leading In Mobile Race


In our latest eRetail Benchmark, John Lewis stood out as a company whose mobile site performed at least as well as – and frequently better than – its desktop counterpart.

In fact, in five out of six categories*, John Lewis’ mobile site outperformed its desktop equivalent; only on search navigation did the latter manage to draw level. This was the biggest success for a mobile site across the ten brands used in the benchmark.

Another top performer was Amazon, who saw mobile win-out in four of the six categories.

For John Lewis though this is a significant improvement, even in the space of twelve months. During the festive period this time last year, Maru/edr ran a similar benchmark where, in the categories concerning ‘first impressions’ and customer experience at the ‘basket’ stage of purchase, it was their website that came out on top.

Such a convincing turn around for the mobile site is a reflection of the investment John Lewis is making.

Capturing Those Christmas Day Deal Hunters

A study, from digital advertising company Criteo, provided insight into online Christmas Day activity that showed nearly two out of every three transactions made on the day, come from a mobile device.

It bodes well for the department store chain who – due to their famous festive marketing campaign – are so heavily embedded in the consumer zeitgeist at this time of year. Further so, given that recent predictions suggest Christmas Day and Boxing Day are likely to see a respective 10.1% and 15% increased spending YoY.

The holiday season offers the perfect opportunity for John Lewis to capitalise on their improved mobile site. Last year, total traffic on December 25th was 75% mobile. If they reach that number again – and I expect that they will – then the positive customer experiences reported in our benchmark will likely increase sales and improve customer loyalty in the future.

Speaking more generally, with the growth of mobile – and in particular, smartphones – as a consumer touchpoint, companies like John Lewis – i.e. those that have recognised mobile’s growing authority – are unlikely to reduce their spending now.

It means also that the window of opportunity for companies yet to recognise the significance of mCommerce is getting smaller – running the risk of losing out entirely.

As Gregory Gazagne, EVP of Criteo, points out: “The message is clear: retailers hoping to make a splash with their Christmas Day offers this year MUST prioritise and optimise the mobile shopping experience, or risk losing out.”

To read more about the findings, please visit the Maru/edr website for your own copy of the Digital Customer Experience Retail Benchmark report


*benchmark categories included: first impressions; search: keyword; navigation; product page; basket; and purchase