Mobile Apps Add Spark to UK Christmas Gloom

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New research predicts that 2011 will see m-commerce go mainstream in the the UK, with the popularity of mobile apps tipped to ease the bleak Christmas outlook.

Smartphone applications will help ease some of the gloom predicted for UK retailers this Christmas, as more customers choose the convenience of mobile commerce over high street crowds. New research by British retail trade body IRMG has found that demand for mobile apps is on the rise and that 24% of consumers have used their smartphones to access apps while shopping. It also predicts that Christmas 2011 will be the year mobile shopping goes mainstream.

“Within an app, consumers have greater control over setting their own preferences, so more personalization,” said IMRG’s Andy Mulcahy in an interview with Reuters.  Apps can be used offline and can utilise multiple mobile device capabilities, such as GPS, voice, camera, calendar and address book.”

As retail in the UK becomes increasingly multichannel, heavyweights such as Argos, ASOS and Debenhams are incorporating mobile commerce into their business models. Catalogue retailer Argos negated some of the fallout from its half-year sales slump by launching apps for the Android and iPhone – moves that saw total sales from mobile shopping jump to 4%, from 1% a year ago.

Fast fashion retailer ASOS launched ASOS mobile a year ago and released a series of apps for Apple mobile devices over the summer. Currently, mobile accounts for 10% of its overall traffic. “I would be amazed if it (mobile shopping) wasn’t between 20 and 30 percent of our sales within the next three to five years,” said Chief Executive Nick Robertson.

Department store giant Debenhams also sells its products via apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Nokia. “It’s very early days but we’re evidently embracing new technology and new ways for people to shop because we see that as one of the growth strands going forward,” said Chief Executive Michael Sharp.

Neha Kale

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Neha is a writer and editor for The Media Pad, publisher of Power Retail. She has a background in business, arts and film journalism and an interest in new media and digital strategy. She is looking forward to exploring how retailers are impacted by the online space for Power Retail. Neha is a magazine junkie whose other addictions include coffee, travel and live music. She likes to run but has a long-time allergy to team sports.

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