• Sales via mobile devices sees year-on-year growth of 254%
  • £5.8 billion spent online during March;  year-on-year increase of 14% and 9% growth on February
  • £17 billion spent online in the first three months of the year, as Q1 2012 sees 13% growth on Q1 2011
  • Mothering Sunday boosts health & beauty and gift sectors

UK shoppers spent £5.8 billion online in March, the equivalent of £114[1] per person, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini
e-Retail Sales Index. This equates to a year-on-year growth of 14% for the e-retail sector and a 9% increase on February.

With more and more tech-savvy Brits using smartphones and tablets fitted with sophisticated applications, shopping via mobile devices is becoming an important driver of online shopping. As a result, m-retail has recorded huge growth, up a staggering 254% on March 2011 and averaging 300% year-on-year growth for Q1 2012.

Interestingly, the conversion rates for mobile (those shoppers that visit a retail site via a mobile device and make a purchase from it) remains very low – 0.7% in Q1 2011, increasing to 1.4%in Q1 2012, compared to 4.13% in March for traditional online website visitor conversions. This strongly suggests that shoppers are primarily using mobile devices to browse for goods on the move, compare prices in-store or use functions such as store locators. All the mobile figures are taken from the m-Retail Sales Index, which runs in parallel with the main Index and has been launched this month.

The performance of the e-retail sector adds to an increasing disparity with the high-street, which has continued to struggle. The overall online market saw a 13% year-on-year growth during the first quarter of 2012, confirming our earlier estimates for the year and a positive indication that the market is doing well in spite of the economy.
March was given a major boost by the sunny start to spring[2] , which saw fashion-conscious Brits updating their wardrobes, resulting in growth of 15% year-on-year and a steep 23% month-on-month rise in the clothing sector.

Mothering Sunday was another key driver in March’s strong performance. The gifts sector in particular saw the benefits of shoppers jumping online to buy presents for mum, leaping 48% year-on-year. Similarly, the health & beauty sector, which includes perfumes and other toiletries, saw a respectable increase of 19% on February.

Chris Webster, Head of Retail and Technology at Capgemini, said: “It is very interesting to have the growing significance of
m-commerce confirmed, and should encourage retailers to factor in mobile devices to their total retail strategy. The growth rate is important, but so too is the conversion rate, mobile customer experience must be improved to harness its potential

Andy Mulcahy, Head of Communications at IMRG, said: “We are very pleased to have broken out our m-Retail Index this month for the first time and, as already indicated by our Quarterly Benchmarking Index, the growth rates are exceptionally high at the moment. Although confidence in the mobile channel is obviously growing, the average conversion rate of just 1% is far lower than that of total e-retail. This may be partly influenced by the context in which mobile engagement can occur, with consumers comparing prices in-store or using store locators on the move for example.

“For the e-retail market as a whole, the first quarter has come in at 13% growth which is exactly in line with our forecast for the year. This is very positive news as the growth rates for Q1 in 2011 were very strong so the market is performing well against a high base.”

IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales for March
Industry Quotes:
Adam Plummer, Head of Ecommerce, The Body Shop: “Mobile really is a game-changer. The shift to becoming the primary device of choice is well under way. As we begin to understand the desires and motivations of our customers and the technology that best serves these, we have seen our conversion rates steadily rise. Whilst our sales growth through mobile has been phenomenal it has been the general level of interaction that has seen exponential growth. 1 in 5 visits originate through a mobile device and, within a thriving multi-channel environment, we are starting to capitalise on the way that mobile ‘glues’ all our channels seamlessly together.”

Sean McKee, Head of Ecommerce and Customer Services, Schuh: “At Schuh we are seeing a truly dynamic performance from both smart phone and tablet and consider all things “mobile” to be fundamental to our efforts to broaden customer choice.  We believe that the benchmarking and pooling of performance data is good for the industry and ultimately good for the consumer, so it is with real enthusiasm that we are participating in the m-Retail Sales index.  We look forward to the first report!”

Ryan Kemp, Shopping.com’s Head of Sales: “Online shopping definitely saw the effects of March’s warm spring weather and the Easter break, with barbeques sales up an impressive 56%, luggage 31%, and sunglasses 30%, month-on-month. Mother’s Day helped to drive year-on year performances for gifts and health and beauty, both up 53% and 18% respectively. Childcare items also proved strong players for Shopping.com, including buggies and strollers (up 55%) toys (21%) and baby care items (up 20%) as parents look online to help their budgets stretch further.”

Notes to Editors
About IMRG
IMRG (Interactive Media In Retail Group) is the UK’s industry association for e-retail. Formed in 1990, IMRG is setting and maintaining pragmatic and robust e-Retail Standards to enable fast-track industry growth, and facilitates its community of members with practical help, information, tools, guidance and networking. Consumers can be confident when dealing with IMRG Members because all have committed to operate using methods that are Honest, Decent, Legal, Truthful and Fair, and have undertaken to not bring the industry into disrepute. The strength of IMRG is the collective and co-operative power of its members.

About Capgemini
With around 120,000 people in 40 countries, Capgemini is one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services. The Group reported 2011 global revenues of EUR 9.7 billion. Together with its clients, Capgemini creates and delivers business and technology solutions that fit their needs and drive the results they want. A deeply multicultural organisation, Capgemini has developed its own way of working, the Collaborative Business ExperienceTM, and draws on Rightshore®, its worldwide delivery model.
Learn more about us at www.capgemini.com.

Rightshore® is a trademark belonging to Capgemini

About the ‘IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index’
The IMRG Capgemini Index, which was started in April 2000, tracks ‘online sales’, which we define as ‘transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels’ from any location, including in-store.  These sales are predominantly internet-based today, but the Index remains ready to record e-retail sales conducted via whatever interactive channels the market may embrace in the future.

Index Participants
Over a hundred e-retailers regularly contribute to the IMRG Capgemini Index, including A. Hume Country Clothing, Airport Parking & Hotels Ltd, Amara, Arcadia Group (Burton, Top Man, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Miss Selfridge), Ask Direct, ASOS.com, Bank, Berry Bros & Rudd,  Binends.com, Blacks, Boden.co.uk, Boohoo.com, Boots Direct, Boutique to You, Brandosa.co.uk, Brora, Buyagift.com, BuyItDirect.co.uk, Carphone Warehouse, Charles Clinkard, Charles Tyrwhitt,  Clarks, Cloggs, Cocosa, Co-operative Travel, Crocus.co.uk, Dabs.com, Damart, Debenhams, Effortless Skin, Ethical Superstore, Figleaves.com, Firebox, First Choice, Freemans Grattan Holdings, Furniture123, Game, Gameplay, Gamestation, Getting Personal.co.uk, Greenfingers.com, Home & Cook, House of Fraser, JD Sports, J D Williams, John Lewis Partnership, Ladderstore.com, Lastminute.com, LK Bennett, Lookfantastic.com, Lyco Direct, M and M Direct, Majestic Wine, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, Millets, Naked Wines, NaturalCollection.com, New Look, Next, Peacocks, Perfect Handbags, PetPlanet.co.uk, Philip Kingsley, PIXmania, Prezzybox.com, Purely Gadgets, QVC, Redfoot Revolution, Richer Sounds, Sainsbury’s, Scales Express, Schuh, Scotlight Direct, Scott, Shoe-Shop.com, Shop Direct Home Shopping (Additions, Great Universal, Kays, Littlewoods, Empire, Woolworths, Very, Isme), Serenata Flowers, Size, Sofa and Home, Sunshine.co.uk, Tesco.com, The Body Shop,  The Fragrance Shop, The Health Supermarket, The Mat Factory, The Natural Store, The White Company, TUI UK, Turton Wines, Waitrose, Warehouse, Wilkinson Hardware & Wynsors World of Shoes.

[1] £5.8bn divided by the estimated number of UK adults 50.9m
[2]http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/2 012/march.html