By Maximilian Clarke

An unprecedented 15% of consumers will access retailers' websites on web connected mobile devices in the run up to Christmas, cloud analytics-based findings by IBM (NYSE: IBM) suggest.

Shoppers appear to be taking advantage of the online discounts as retailers launch their seasonal promotions earlier this year. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics verify IBM's findings, showing an 11.7% growth in non-store retailing as consumers hunt for bargains.

Based on data from the IBM Coremetrics Benchmark, UK online shopping sales in November are expected to grow by as much as 10 percent versus November 2010, with the growing influence of mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones being among the key factors in this increase.

“This Christmas shoppers are moving beyond the PC and on to the mobile, showing that retailers must pay close attention to this important new shopping channel,” said Andrew Jackson-Proes, Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) leader for UK & Ireland, IBM. “Retailers must invest in highly personalised, customer-loyalty building systems that catch the attention of price and promotions-sensitive customers at exactly the right moment and on the right channel. IBM has developed Smarter Commerce to help retailers to address the needs of this market.”

The IBM Coremetrics Benchmark analysis gathers data directly from the web sites of more than 150 leading UK retailers. Using sophisticated analytics technology, Benchmark measures real-time sales data and online marketing results to uncover shopping trends across a wide variety of channels including social media, mobile devices and other online sources where consumers interact with their brands.

This instalment marks the start of the IBM Benchmark Campaign and reveals the following 2011 online retail predictions for the November pre-Christmas season:

• Online Shopping Growth: Total online sales in November will experience impressive growth of 10 percent over the same period in 2010.
• Mobile Traffic and Sales: Record numbers of consumers will shift their shopping from the PC to their mobile device this Christmas season. In October, 12 percent of people used a mobile device to log onto a retailer’s site, up from 3.7 percent in October 2010. Additionally, mobile sales continue to increase, reaching a high of 11 percent of all online sales in October, up from 3.1 percent in October 2010.
• iPhone & Android: In the UK, iPhone dominates the mobile phone market with nearly double the amount of traffic as compared to Android users. Numbers show iPhone accounting for 5.5 percent of mobile traffic and Android 2.4 percent in October 2011. This trend compares to the US where traffic is more evenly distributed between both types of smartphones.
• The iPad Factor: Shopping on the iPad will lead to more retail purchases than other mobile devices. This trend is based on October 2011 figures where iPad conversion rates reached 5.5 percent as compared to the overall mobile device conversion rate of 3.5 percent.
• Surgical Shopping Goes Mobile: Mobile shoppers will display a laser focus on buying this season that surpasses that of other online shoppers with a 37.9 percent bounce rate on mobile devices versus online shopping bounce rates of 33.3 percent in October.
• The Social Influence: While the industry will see modest increases in direct social buying, the influence of these sites and services will eclipse that of other channels. According to October conversion rates, 7.6 percent of consumers that visited a retail site from a social media site made a purchase. This compares to a 4.7 percent conversion rate for shopping by all online means in October. Also in 2011, the vast majority of online social shopping will continue to come from Facebook, which in October accounted for nearly 90 percent of all site traffic from social networks.

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