|By Dominic Monkhouse||
|November 16, 2012 01:00 PM EST||
With online retailers around the UK readying their systems for the annual Christmas hike in sales, anything websites can do to create a competitive advantage to differentiate them from their rivals will undoubtedly be essential.
But while many firms may consider ramping up their marketing with special offers and promotions, one area that could prove especially fruitful may be embracing mobile commerce. This is no longer a niche technology, but one that should be a serious part of a firm's ecommerce strategy.
Ensuring that ecommerce hosting solutions include provisions for users accessing web sites via smartphones and tablets will be essential this year, as research by IMRG and Capgemini has estimated there is the potential for huge revenue growth through this channel. The organisation has forecast that consumers in the UK will spend almost £4.6 billion online during the peak shopping weeks beginning on December 3rd and December 10th. However, almost a billion of this (£920 million) is set to come via mobile gadgets.
Therefore, if businesses do not have a dedicated mobile app or a website tailored specifically for use with smaller screens and mobile internet connections, they could be missing out. Between 26 and 27 per cent of total ecommerce sales for the final nine weeks of 2012 are forecast to occur in this fortnight, so companies that are not up to speed with mobile solutions may need to act fast if they are to take advantage.
Chief information officer of IMRG Tina Spooner said the forecast of around 20 per cent of ecommerce sales coming from mobile devices signals a major shift in the way consumers interact with brands online. She stated: "While it is still common for consumers to browse the shops at weekends before making the final purchase online at Monday lunchtime, we are increasingly seeing the popularity of 'second-screening', where people browse on their mobile devices in front of the TV."
Head of retail and technology and Capgemini Chris Webster added that m-commerce platforms have now gone beyond being a useful extra for a firm's ecommem-commercerce strategy and is now a "must have". He also highlighted research conducted by his company in partnership with the MIT Center for Digital Business that suggested tech-savvy retailers can see tangible benefits from this. The study found the most digitally-advanced enterprises are an average of 26 per cent more profitable than their competitors.
The coming weeks are also set to come as a "huge relief" to retailers following a difficult summer period, where poor weather, economic problems and distractions such as the Olympics all contributed to depressed spending. Mr Webster said retailers will have to make sure they are prepared for peak of online sales in early December, as well as increased in-store sales.
It was suggested by the IMRG and Capgemini that the first two Mondays in December will be the biggest days of the year for online retailers. This will be a week later than last year, which the study attributed to many people's final pre-Christmas payday falling after the last Monday in November. Therefore, it will be vital that ecommerce retailers have robust systems in place to cope with high levels of demand during this period and ensure their websites and mobile solutions are able to offer uninterrupted service to consumers.
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