Shoppers consult handsets for retail insight

Consumers are increasingly turning to their handsets to search for retail information.

Retailers in any doubt as to the influence that online searches are having on consumers’ shopping decisions might want to start reviewing their opinions sooner rather than later, it would seem.

Figures from the latest BRC-Google online retail monitor reveal that total retail search volumes grew by 27% year-on-year last quarter.

The increase was driven by a rise in mobile search volumes of 216% year-on-year, as consumers increasingly consult their handsets for retail purposes.

The growth of retail search volumes for multi-channel retailers — usually those using stores and the internet — reached 14% in the second quarter of 2011 compared with 21% for pure online retailers.

“The star performer is mobile, with the number of retail searches being carried out on smart phones and tablets more than trebling for this quarter compared with the same period last year,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium.

“Consumers are always looking for more convenient ways to shop. Retailers are making m-commerce easier all the time by offering mobile optimised websites, apps and transactional mobile platforms,” he said.

The BRC-Google also threw up some other interesting details.

The number of overseas consumers searching for UK retailers grew by 34% in the second quarter of 2011 compared with the same quarter a year earlier, while the number of UK consumers searching for overseas retailers grew 76%.

It also revealed that London comprised 36% of all retail search volumes in the UK during the quarter.

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