In 2015, retailers continued to hit the mark with magnificent advertising campaigns, particularly towards the end of the year. But while many of us were on our fifteenth view of John Lewis’ heartwarming man on the moon, Mog’s adorable Christmas calamity for Sainsbury’s, and Harvey Nichols’ unmistakable #GiftFace, UK retailers have been busy prepping for the year ahead, with good reason.

Mobile First In 2016, traditional retailers who haven’t embraced mobile could see their business start to erode and lose significance with UK shoppers. Last year, mobile accounted for 45% of overall e-commerce in the UK with a clear majority expected this year for online shopping. The Black Friday and Cyber Monday surge was dominated by mobile, which accounted for more than 60% of traffic, a 10% increase from 2014. Mobile accounted for a large share of the discounted purchases made online, and shoppers could avoid the in-store mayhem.

The Centre for Retail Research warned that 62,000 shops could fold in the next five years as online shopping surges, prompting traditional retailers to adopt an online and mobile strategy. The way shoppers research, discover and transact will continue to evolve, and mobile will act as a companion app to inform users, grow loyalty and drive in store traffic in addition to being the end destination for a transaction. Physical stores will remain significant for final fulfilment, but will evolve and give users the opportunity to interact with different product experiences and share innovation.

But Not Mobile Only

The case for retailers embracing mobile is clear, but it’s not just a hard switch from one channel to another, but rather a strategy to adopt an omni-channel user experience. Omni-channel shoppers are the most loyal customers, and represent an important segment for retailers to grow and nurture through omni-channel shopping experiences, consistency and accuracy of prices, promotions and product availability. Shoppers have adopted mobile but also state that the in-store experience is still very important to them.

We will continue to explore how mobile can enhance a physical store experiences through the use of beacons, barcodes and mobile payment solutions. We’ll also see an increase in virtual reality to bring products to life, inform shoppers of deals, and make the shopping experience more rewarding and engaging. Shoppers have become very expectant on delivery, so fulfilment of mobile purchases must be fast, reliable and flexible, with the notion of same day delivery and pick-up fast becoming the norm, meaning order management systems and delivery infrastructure need to keep up.

Mobile Payments Consistent with the move to mobile, UK shoppers are embracing mobile payments at nearly the same rate as their American counterparts, with 21% shoppers already using them. Despite the heavily fragmented payments market, the timely launch of Apple Pay is likely to open up the market, with nearly every major UK bank supporting it. While PayPal currently occupies a near 20% market share, Apple Pay claimed a 6% share within a month of launch. With these seamless integrations, retailers can ride the tidal wave of payments, ease the consumer shopping experience, and propel mobile sales in 2016.

Buy Buttons and Big Data

Mobile applications will continue to shake up shopping behaviours as impulse and discovery-led purchases become mainstream, aided by seamlessly integrated buy buttons. Utilizing contextually relevant product placement within mobile content experiences offers retailers an opportunity to participate in new discovery-led mobile shopping economy. On mobile, the store is always open–which, when combined with ever-evolving seamless payment solutions, offers an easy, immediate and efficient shopping experience that is expected by millennials who are driving the growth of m-commerce.

Retailers need to consider not just how to drive users to their own mobile stores and experiences, but how to distribute their stores and products across the app ecosystem and build relationships with customers across their entire media consumption cycle on mobile. Big data is the critical piece of the puzzle, and retailers who harness big data can offer relevant, targeted promotions to individual consumers.

What’s Next?

In the world of mobile, what can be perceived as futuristic and innovative rapidly becomes the norm. Looking around the world on how mobile shopping has evolved to dominate in the US, China and Korea, we can get a clear glimpse of what to expect in the UK. Traditional retailers in 2016 should aim to be in a segment of early mobile adopters to secure their underlying business and be positioned well for future growth.

Edward Laws

Edward Laws


Edward Laws, Senior Vice President, Performance Advertising, InMobi.