UK Mobile Revenue Now Tops 20 Percent Of All Digital Sales. Will It Last?

In this year's first quarter, UK mobile sales accounted for more than one out of every five Web sales, according to new stats published by Capgemini and IMRG. Although mobile representing 20 percent of all digital sales is not unusual, that's a sharp increase from what the firm found in the UK just the earlier quarter (Q4 2012), when mobile's digital share was only 15.4 percent.

And while mobile controls 20 percent of digital sales, it's delivering 30 percent of all traffic in Q1, up from 24 percent in the prior quarter.

The two firms attributed the spike to "a large increase in tablet owners following Christmas 2012."

"Mobile is clearly a game-changer for the U.K. e-retail industry—at the beginning of 2010 mobile sales accounted for just 0.4 percent of the U.K. e-retail market, and within three years it has surged a staggering 5,000 percent, with m-retail now accounting for one in every five online purchases," said Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG. "With the continuing shift away from desktop to mobile Internet use, it is inevitable we will see the latter platform outstrip desktop PCs as the preferred device for shopping online, and from the latest figures it is apparent this may be sooner than expected."

One word of caution: If the firms are right and this mobile surge is attributable to new tablets, there is the distinct possibility that the surge could be temporary. That would happen once the experimentation with the new tablet devices calms down. The question will then hinge on whether shoppers go back to desktop devices—once the novelty wears off—or whether they will permanently move much of their E-Commerce shopping to the tablets.

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