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UK retailers warned to adapt more quickly as mobile sales surge

Smartphone sales are set to more than treble in value from £13.5bn to £43bn over the next four years, new research shows – but the UK is not adapting to the changing trends as quickly as other countries.

Smartphone purchases will account for two-thirds of all of those made online in the UK within four years, the report by Google, PayPal UK and OC&C found. 

However, the research suggests UK retailers are failing to keep up with Asian and US rivals when it comes to the technology. 

For example, UK retail sites are around 10% to 25% slower to load than US. Google said improving load times by one second can boost conversion rates by 27%.

PayPal UK’s mobile commerce director Rob Harper said: “Speed is an important factor in any shopping experience, but when it comes to mobile shopping, it’s vital.

“Retailers can reduce the time it takes to browse and select a purchase, but if it takes too long to pay, they may lose that sale. It’s a problem that retailers can easily address.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • For such an important topic, this article is far too narrow in its analysis. Variation in load times on mobile—between countries—could be attributable to many factors, including mobile data infrastructure beyond a retailer's control.

    Challenges within a retailer's scope include the logical challenge of how to organise, present, and navigate content within the confines of the interface. This is a unique design challenge that warrants real innovation — nobody's doing this particularly cleverly. Strategies that optimise load times are one part of this broader challenge.

    Minimising friction at checkout is certainly a central consideration but, with the advent of ApplePay on web last year, who's still talking about PayPal? PayPal may be sufficiently embedded in the user and retailer consciousness to survive beyond its useful purpose, but in the coming years customers will organically find they're no longer using it, thanks to touch-based systems.

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