It’s not in any doubt that the advent of ecommerce has had a profound impact on retailers in the last few years, with the number of people making purchases via the web exploding. In 2012, the global industry surpassed the $1 trillion (£7600 billion) mark for the first time, and in the UK alone, it’s estimated that the sector is set to grow by 17 per cent this year, with the average consumer spending £78 online in January.
With this in mind, the importance of having a robust, highly-reliable ecommerce platform that is flexible enough to respond to growing demand is obvious, as firms without these capabilities will simply not be able to complete with more tech-savvy rivals.
But increasingly, a strong website is no longer enough for a successful ecommerce strategy – and the reason for this is a shift in the way many people shop, driven by increasing uptake of mobile gadgets.
In the UK penetration of smartphones is expected to reach 75 per cent in 2013, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau, while half the population will have access to a tablet device. And buyers are increasingly using these for shopping. In the final quarter of 2013, IMRG found almost a third of online sales in the UK were made via a mobile device – up from 27 per cent in the previous three-month period.
And its not just completing purchases that mobile gadgets are helping with, as consumers are also increasingly browsing for goods on the move – and even comparing online prices in store – before finalising the transaction on another channel, so the real impact of mobile is likely to be even higher than this.
What this means for businesses is they cannot afford to ignore this new reality in the ecommerce market, and this means ensuring they have the right infrastructure in place to support this. Mobile-optimised websites and apps will demand that businesses have strong IT tools backing them up, with high availability and fast performance essential elements for this.
Even if you still do most of your business via bricks-and-mortar stores, you still need to adapt to this, as recent research from the US by Apigee revealed two-thirds of consumers will favour physical stores that also offer a mobile app – so no matter how you sell, you’ll be impacted by this new retail landscape.