As figures begin to emerge, it is evident that Christmas was a huge success story for the online sector, as it saw figures soar for both year on year and for new etailers. The growing popularity of tablet PCs and smart phones means that access to the internet is easier now than it ever has been, and more portable too.
The key question that retailers will need to ask themselves is how can this opportunity be maximised? Mobile enabled sites are emerging rapidly as many of the retail giants are realising how serious mobile commerce should be taken. One department store has launched a mobile optimised website on the back of a 660% increase in mobile sales*, proving their certainty in its value as an ecommerce tool. The Christmas weekend showed traffic increases of 50-100% for many mobile enabled sites, and start of the Boxing Day sales meant the 26th was the busiest for mobile traffic **, proving that the opportunities are already there for the savvy etailer.
Research has showed that customers are using their smartphones and tablet computers to access competitors website whilst in stores to ensure they are getting the best deal, and this exhibits that price comparison is a key benefit of portable online access. Although the sales of PCs decline in direct correlation with the increase in tablets and smart phones, there is no doubt that this trend will slow down online sales. In fact, it is increasingly clear that tablet PCs are set to be an important part of the future of retail, whether it be through using internet or mobile enabled sites. I believe that mobile and online purchasing will continue to grow at an explosive rate, and is likely to continue to leave the high street floundering. Christmas has demonstrated that the difficulty with the high street is their vulnerability to set backs beyond human control, such as extreme weather conditions, and the plus point of online shopping is that it can be done anywhere and anytime.
However it is not all bad news for the high street, as I believe it likely that positive experiences whilst shopping online may also increase a customer’s loyalty to the brand or store. As smartphones and tablet PCs continue to move into the mainstream, all the signs suggest that online shopping will follow suit.