Upwardly mobile

According to a new survey by Barclays Bank Ireland, 37% of Irish consumers now purchase much more than they did previously, since the advent of mobile shopping. Gillian Hamill spoke to Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays to learn more about how Irish retailers can fully capitalise on this trend



19 June 2015

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  • Two thirds (63%) of consumers are browsing for products more frequently as a result of having access to a mobile device
  • Irish retailers are planning on investing more in mobile in the next five years, with close to two thirds (60%) saying they intended to do so. This compares to just a third of British retailers who said they would invest in this area
  • 80% have encountered problems with the use of mobile in their business, citing expense, data use challenges and marketing limitations as the main issues they have experienced
  • Over half (54%) of Irish shoppers saying they check prices on their devices when in physical shops.
  • Clothing was ranked as the most popular purchase by mobile device (46%), followed by books (33%) and footwear (30%). Other popular items included electricals, health & beauty and music
  • 25-34 year olds are the biggest spenders, spending €379.67 on retail via mobile device in the past year.
  • Younger customers also buy with more frequency, with a quarter (25%) of 18-24 year olds saying they purchase products online once a week, compared with only 3% of those aged 55-64 years

Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays

Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays

The phenomenal number of heads that can be spied right across the country, bent down and eagerly immersed in swiping through buzzing touchscreens, shows mobile mania has descended. In fact, the term ‘nomophobia’ has even been coined to describe the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

According to new research published by Barclays Bank Ireland, consumers are relishing the convenience and accessibility of mobile shopping and are browsing and buying online in their droves, presenting retailers with a significant opportunity to tap into this market.

Mobile shopping, namely, shopping online on a mobile device, is no longer just confined to smartphones and tablets moreover. “A new phrase that’s come into being is the ‘phablet’ – a cross-over between a smartphone and a tablet,” says Richard Lowe, head of Retail and Wholesale at Barclays. “You’d look at the iphone 6 Plus as being in the phablet mode.”

Ignoring the prevalence of mobile shopping is a costly error for any retailer to make, according to Lowe. “I think particularly what the report is telling us is that mobile is now a key sales opportunity for the retailer but it’s not just about sales, it’s also about influencing people.”

Consumers are not just buying on their mobile devices, but investing significant time in researching their purchases beforehand. Lowe subsequently advises: “Retailers need to invest and make sure that all of their websites are mobile-enabled, so that [regardless] of the size of device, be it Apple or Android, but actually the user experience when using mobile device is excellent. They can see all the content, it downloads well and that they can purchase the goods.”

Consumers’ love of online browsing for goods even extends to the relatively new phenomenon of ‘dual screening’. Lowe explains that this scenario, telling ShelfLife: “People in the evenings now whilst they are watching telly, they’re often sitting there with their tablet or their smartphone and they’re actually seeing what they want to buy as well.” Consumers’ reluctance to switch off from their devices, either out-and-about or at home, provides “an opportunity for the retailer to really recognise that they can engage with the consumer so much more than they previously have done,” he says.

Consumers can be positively influenced by interesting editorial or blog content on a site. Lowe explains that this predominantly takes the form of product reviews where consumers can actually “see some of the products in action”. This content can also build upon the retailer’s existing online presence on social media. “There’s a lot around social media and its potential, be it Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. Those are three particular ones that retailers often use because what they’re really trying to do is connect with the consumer and have a real relationship,” says Lowe. “This isn’t just about mobile I would add, it includes in-store as well so this is about creating a holistic approach where consumers both in-store and online [are engaged].”

Changing shopper patterns

While 25-34 year olds are the biggest spenders, spending €379.67 on retail via mobile device in the past year, Lowe says smartphone frequency of usage is highest among 18-24 year olds and that this age group will soon be in the largeis in the who are the largest spenders, 18 – 24 year olds, and that the shopping patterns of these digital natives represent “a real shift” from the past.

A major development in recent years has been the adoption of the ‘click and collect’ model where consumers can order their goods online and collect them in-store. “Click and collect is a really important aspect for retailers to be looking at very closely and the reason for that is that the delivery at home model is not ideal for everybody,” says Lowe. The model also demonstrates the continued importance of bricks and mortar stores which play a key role in ‘showrooming’ certain products and displaying them to best effect. Ultimately, what services like click and collect do is free time up for consumers to focus on what’s really important to them. “Generally speaking, a lot of people are still quite time poor…The issue they’ve got is that they don’t have time to wait in at home, that’s time that they might be spending with family or some leisure activity but actually if they know what they want, they can collect it from store and I think we do need to see more investment in that part of the market.”




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