Did you know that the UK is the third biggest m-commerce market in the world? Growing rapidly and poised to expand further in the future, mobile commerce in the UK presents consumers and companies with endless opportunities. From shopping and paying bills to raising brand awareness and boosting sales, it’s clear why millions of Brits are embracing this growing trend.
So how big is the m-commerce market in the UK? How many Britons shop using mobile devices?
To find out the answers and more, take a look at these fascinating facts and figures we put together for you.
(Statista) (Internet Retailing) (Statista)
The UK is the most advanced e-commerce market in Europe, with an impressive 87% online purchase penetration rate. Online shopping statistics in the UK further suggests that 38% of British consumers use the net for purchases at least once a week, more than any other region in the world, including the US.
But how many people shop online on mobile devices in the UK?
In 2019, a third of all online shopping in the country was done on mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and home assistants.
When it comes to the most popular retail sites in the UK for mobile shopping, Amazon takes the lead with 36.218 unique mobile visitors in 2019. Right behind Amazon, stats indicate, is online marketplace eBay (27,343 mobile visitors) and the UK’s supermarket Sainsbury’s (17,034).
Mobile devices contributed to almost half of the revenue of online shopping companies in the UK. What’s more, 2019 mobile shopping statistics in the UK show revenue from smartphones and tablets amounting to around £33.3 billion. This is an impressive increase compared to six years previously when mobile generated 25% of total annual revenue, or just £10 billion.
Nearly three-quarters of British shoppers prefer mobile devices when making online purchases, with 48% of them using their phones for purchases at least once a week. The number of UK shoppers opting for mobile is in line with the global average of 71%, the latest data on mobile commerce reveals.
More and more high street retailers realize the importance of digital shopping channels as smartphone usage across the country grows rapidly. Combined with the fact that 48% of consumers plan to spend more on online shopping further emphasizes the value of adopting ecommerce platforms among traditional retailers.
Even though British consumers are most likely to use their mobile devices in the home (66% and 87% use their smartphone and tablet at home, respectively), half of them take advantage of the mobile experience when shopping at brick-and-mortar retailers. Rather than a battle of mcommerce vs traditional retail, the former poses new opportunities for high street retailers, such as introducing a more seamless mobile/in-store experience.
A year later, sales in retail m-commerce reached a staggering £61.14 billion, making up more than 50% of total retail ecommerce sales in the UK.
What’s more, retail sales on mobiles are projected to go up to £105.28 billion in four years’ time. In other words, the growth of mobile commerce is expected to increase by £44.14 billion and account for a whopping 63% of total online retail sales.
The UK’s mobile commerce market is the third biggest globally, preceded only by China and the US. Namely, in 2018, Britain’s mobile ecommerce market was valued at €55.9 billion compared to China’s 652.6 billion and America’s 183.2 billion euros.
Looking at forecasts by WorldPay, expenditure through mobile devices in the UK will reach $116 billion by 2023, up from the projected $72 billion in 2019. On the other hand, ecommerce stats indicate that total turnover in the sector should grow to $320 billion over the same period.
As of the third quarter of 2020, Brits spent an average of $66.80 on orders made through mobile phones and around $79.15 while shopping on tablets. By contrast, UK consumers shopping on desktops splurged almost $100 per order, meaning that these devices are still in the lead in terms of spending.
In 2019, 8% of retailers in the UK offered digital payment services like Apple Pay or Google Pay, opposed to the 92% of businesses that stuck to traditional payment channels, such as credit cards and cash.
In 2019 less than a fifth of British smartphone users made a mobile payment at least once within the last six months.
However, thanks to the rapidly growing smartphone penetration rate in the UK, this number is expected to steadily increase — going up as high as 11.9 million by 2023. Despite the rise, the UK still ranks as just “moderate” regarding mobile payment usage on a global scale.
A Statista survey on UK shopping habits and mobile payment users suggests that younger age groups are more likely to adopt digital payment services. More specifically, data indicates that:
Apple Pay is the most popular mobile payment brand among Brits. Judging by a Statista survey, 61% of respondents used this app in the past year, far more than other services, Apple Pay usage statistics from the UK report.
By contrast, 32% used Google Pay, while 12% chose Samsung Pay when paying in shops, restaurants, or other points of sale. Other major players in the mobile payment market include Barclays bPay (8%), Masterpass (5%), and Bitpay (4%).
Despite the growth of digital technology, cash is still one of the UK’s popular payment methods, used in 28% of all payments in 2018. Nevertheless, this trend is about to change. Thanks to the availability of contactless and mobile payments, many Brits are now choosing to live a cashless life reducing the number of cash payments by 16% in 2018.
(UK Finance) (Business Insider)
According to UK Finance, more than two-thirds of adults used online banking, and almost 50% were using mobile banking. Furthermore, the number of bank payments made through the net or mobile device increased from 1.6 billion in 2017 to an impressive 2 billion a year later.
More recent mobile banking usage statistics indicate that 68% of the Brits surveyed used these services in 2019 and 86% of them pointed to mobile devices as their number one choice for primary banking services.
On top of that, 62% value mobile banking so much, they are ready to change banks on account of bad mobile experiences.
(The Guardian) (Global Business Outlook)
As online banking through mobile apps increases, business in branches reduces. Estimates show that by 2024, 71% of the UK population will use mobile apps for banking as opposed to the 55% who will still bank in branches.
Even now, m-commerce statistics from the UK show that 71% of all banking-related searches in the UK happen online, mostly on mobile devices. By contrast, only 6% of interactions took place in person at a bank branch office.
This shift towards digital is causing the biggest banks in the country to reduce the number of high street offices, a practice that is already taking place across the country. Namely, at the end of 2018, there were only 7,586 physical branches from the 20,500 registered in 1988.
In addition to security, customers also appreciated the chance to order a replacement card from an app, and other mobile account management services, including insight into recurring charges and setting limits on their debit or credit cards. 38% of respondents even described the ability to cancel subscriptions, like Netflix, as an “extremely valuable” feature.
Awarded 64 points (out of 100), NatWest offers the most desirable mobile banking features on the UK market. Next in line is Barclays (59 points) and Lloyds (58 points). Nationwide (38 points) and HSBC (31 points) round off the top five UK banks judging by the number of the popular mobile banking features they provide.
Given the widespread use of mobile internet, it’s understandable why smartphones and tablets are taking over desktop in ecommerce. In 2019, 67% used mobile devices (43% favoured smartphones and 24% used tablets) for online shopping. On the other hand, 50% relied on laptops for making online purchases.
The majority of visits and sales to retailers come from mobile devices, 65% and 53%, respectively. On the other hand, desktop accounts for just 35% of total traffic and 47% of all sales. Mobile is responsible for most traffic and sales across all industries, with the exception of travel, where only 29% of sales come from mobile.
Despite this difference, the add to cart rates between mobiles and desktops are pretty close. The average add to cart rate is 10.4% for mobiles, and for desktops, it’s only 1.47% more, standing at 11.87%. Put simply, mobile visitors are abandoning their online shopping cart more frequently than desktop users, most likely due to issues during the checkout process.
A large percentage of internet adults in the UK use shopping apps every month. In fact, the usage of a retail mobile app, statistics reveal, is more popular than music and banking apps, each used by 43% of online adults, or dating and friendship apps, favoured by 8.3% of British internet users.
With almost 2.3 million thousand iPhone owners and 273.1 iPad users accessing the app daily, Amazon is the most used shopping app on the App Store. Next in line was Wish with 769.07 thousand daily active users and eBay with 598.03 thousand DAUs.
On the Google Play Store, Wish was ranked as the most popular and one of the best shopping apps for Android with around 262.7 thousand daily active users.
However, judging by the number of downloads, Shop: package and order tracking is the leading app among iOS device users. As of January 2021, this app was downloaded 285.4 times. Amazon and eBay are ranked second and third with 276.96 and 141.1 thousand downloads, respectively.
The conversion rate of online mobile shoppers in the UK reduced in the one year between 2019 and 2020, going down by 0.57%. As per Statista, in the third quarter of 2020, 2.9% of e-commerce web pages visits from mobile phones turned into purchases.
The conversion rate of tablet shoppers has fluctuated throughout the past year, going down in the first quarter of 2020 to just 3.64%. M-commerce statistics show it has since bounced back and stands at 4.41%, close to where it was at the end of 2019 when almost 5% of all shopping website visits via tablets converted into purchases.
Tablets, on the other hand, account for a slightly lower but impressive number—£22.45 billion. As expected, smartphone usage is likely to increase as newly-available advanced features make these devices more appealing and more convenient for shoppers.
(Mobile Marketing Magazine)
Smart speaker ownership is on the rise in the UK; however, the penetration of voice commerce is still not that high. Less than a quarter of people who own smart speakers have used the device for shopping, and only 13% do so more than once a month.
Brits may not be huge fans of internet shopping through smart speakers, but they do use them for product research (46%), making shopping lists (40%) and comparing prices (23%).
One of the main reasons why mobile shoppers abandon sites without making a purchase is inadequate mobile accessibility. A survey on online mobile shopping problems shows that 44% of interviewees would leave the mobile site if they encountered any difficulties. 19% would try a competitor’s site, while 2% will simply leave a negative review on social media.
A survey carried out by PayPal reveals more than half of British consumers prefer to shop from a website that offers some type of digital payment method. They also value simplicity in online payments, as 47% admitted to abandoning the transaction because the procedure was too complicated.
According to a 2017 survey of about 2000 small businesses and 2000 consumers, online mobile shopping was leading in internet spending even back then, with 30% of the UK population planning to spend more and shop more from their mobiles in the following 12 months.
(PayPal) (The Independent)
60% of surveyed UK consumers say they are disappointed with the “mobile experience” they get from small and independent businesses. This stat alone should prompt small companies into optimizing their website for mobile use. However, many are still reluctant to do so, with 33% saying that their website is fine as is and doesn’t need to go mobile.
(Think with Google)
Google has ranked Etsy as the easiest to use and fastest mobile retail website in the UK. This US-based e-commerce website is closely followed by the UK’s Asda with a 72% and online shopping giant eBay with a 71% rating.
Even though shopping after Christmas and New Year’s is not high in volume or expenditure, this year’s lockdown announcement seems to have changed the minds of British consumers. The most recent data on mobile commerce reveals that sales on mobile increased by an astonishing 169.1% in the first month of 2021. Total online sales, on the other hand, increased by 74% compared to the previous year.
Unsurprisingly, mobile shopping surged during the initial lockdown in the UK. In the summer of 2020, mobile retail sales increased by 30% compared to Q1 2020, or 25% higher than the fourth quarter of 2019. According to experts, though, m-commerce would have advanced anyway, but the coronavirus just gave it a little push in the right direction.
AI is the latest mobile commerce technology introduced in all segments of e-commerce to improve productivity. That’s why in 2019, 57% of UK retailers implemented AI in stock management, whereas 77% of retailers used artificial intelligence tech in customer service.
(Global Business Outlook)
A third of the consumers surveyed in 2019 would like banks to invest in the development of new apps. However, the majority of them (85%) don’t want AI-based banking services. In fact, only 15% expect banks to offer robot banking in the future, showing that at times digital inclusion cannot compete with old-fashioned human interaction.
Is mcommerce the future? Given the combination of smartphone penetration, increasing mobile internet usage and continuing lockdowns, it’s safe to assume that the answer is yes. All these factors contribute to the rise of mobile commerce in the UK, a sector that is expected to take up an even larger share of total ecommerce and perhaps even surpass traditional retail in a few years.
As a writer for Don’t Disappoint Me, my job is to collect relevant key information and interpret it into a wide range of content. I also have an MSc in Marketing, so I am always trying to expand my knowledge and discover new and exciting areas of digital marketing, SEO and web traffic building. I am a nature enthusiast, so when I’m not researching and analyzing, I love to go hiking with my dogs, camping, or snowboarding. I am a bookaholic as well and have an ongoing obsession with crime TV shows and movies.