It’s been clear for some time that the future of retail is on the web. Not only is the average Brit devoting 89 minutes per week to online browsing but a new report from Barclays has also suggested that the British retail sector boasts the highest proportion of online sales of any major European country. Nevertheless, the research also revealed that retailers need to step up their game, as virtual shopping baskets worth a combined total of £3.4bn are abandoned every year.
Having surveyed 300 senior retail managers and 2,006 UK consumers, the research found that the most significant reason customers abandon their online purchases is because they switched between devices. For instance, a third of consumers browsed for products on their phones but swapped to computers when it was time to check out, making a new order in the process and leaving the old one behind. Other key reasons include people being unsatisfied by a lack of discount offers and because they’re unhappy with the delivery options available.
And there is a serious incentive for businesses to fix these issues: Barclays estimated that retailers could boost their online sales by £10.5bn over the next five years by investing more in retargeting ads to encourage customers to return to complete their purchases and by making online shopping more convenient. However, only 16% of retailers said that they are making mobile sales a top priority in the next year; instead of focusing on their online shopping, 79% said they’d put their efforts into improving their in-store sales instead.
Commenting on the research, Ian Gilmartin, head of retail at Barclays, said: “At a time when cost management is a priority, it’s understandable that investment in mobile optimisation may seem too expensive for many retailers. However, our research underlines the longer term benefit of providing easy to use options across all online platforms. By adapting quickly to the needs of today’s consumer to create a better shopping experience online, and particularly via mobile, retailers will boost their sales.”
In other words, rather than attempting to swim against the tide and entice more consumers into their offline stores, retailers should be bringing their A game to their online offerings.