Retail Online, 2017 is the breakthrough year for mobile and shopping apps

01 Mar 2018
The figures for online retail in the last quarter of 2017 are currently the subject of discussion due to the publication of two reports of great interest. The authors are Comscore and Criteo. The former is a world leader in measuring audiences, brands and consumer behaviour worldwide, while the latter plays a similar role in online retail marketing. The Comscore analysis covers the retail and sale sites in the EU5 countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. A relatively mature market, which stands at 18 percentage points above the world average (EU5 and North America are the areas most affected by the saturation of online retail, due to the high usage of broadband connections in densely-populated urban areas, with state-of-the-art infrastructures and logistical capabilities). Between 2016 and 2017, the sector's performance increased in all EU5 countries, except Germany, with growth of between 1 and 3 percentage points. Saturation levels are similar between countries: the difference between those at the highest (UK) and lowest (Italy) levels has decreased from 15 percentage points in Q4 2016 to 13 in Q4 2017, indicating an increasing conformity of shopping choices in Europe. The time spent by consumers in online retail is undergoing significant changes. Over 5 hours on average in the United Kingdom and Germany, whilst in France, Spain and Italy it is less than 3 hours. Criteo's Global Commerce Review highlights the strong diffusion of shopping apps and increasingly ingrained "mobile-first" shopping habits. In Europe, Retailers generate 50% of their sales on mobile devices, with 54% of transactions taking place via apps. The conversion rate in apps is significant, three times higher than the average for mobile internet (4%). In North America, online retailers with shopping apps generate 67% of all sales on smartphones and tablets. In the fourth quarter of 2017, in Italy mobile transactions (not included in the shopping app calculation) represented 37%, with peak traffic coming in the summer months. More specifically, smartphone sales increased by 43.5% in 2017, while tablet sales decreased by 15.7%. Desktops are always preferred during working hours, but year on year the volume of transactions fell by 1.1%. The purchase cycle is not exclusive to a single channel: 25% of commercial transactions, in fact, are preceded by clicking on a device which is different from the one used for the final order; in particular, 15% of desktop transactions are preceded by a click on a mobile device. Again with regard to the home, the categories of online retail with the highest percentage of "mobile" sales are health/beauty (47%), fashion/luxury (40%), sporting goods (40%) and home/gardening (33%).