UK retailers are collectively missing out on an astounding £6.6 billion each year due to a lack of investment in their mobile offering, according to recent research into mobile spending from VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Despite retailers reporting their mobile share of online sales almost doubled from 2013 to 2014, from 15% to 28%, the study reveals a multi-billion pound opportunity is still being missed, both online and in-store.

The study revealed that 15% of consumers now use their mobile as a primary shopping device. What's more, consumers with a propensity to shop on mobile are also more prolific online spenders overall, making 47% more transactions (14 compared to 9.5) and spending 55% more (£669 compared to £430) than purely online shoppers.

A huge opportunity for retailers, consumers themselves estimate mobile spending is set to grow even further, with 73% saying they would spend more on their mobile and 62% more via tablet this year. This compares to only 20% saying they would increase spending on PC.

"The growth of online and mobile spending has already had a hugely positive impact on the retail sector. However, there is still a great opportunity being missed - and it is worth billions for retailers. Customers have expressed their intention to spend more on mobile devices, so now is the time to revisit mobile strategy to capitalise on this," explained Claire Davenport, Managing Director for VoucherCodes.co.uk.

Mobile drives store trade
Not only important in driving online sales, the study also revealed that the provision of mobile features would help drive consumers back into high street stores. Almost half of shoppers (44%) said they would be more likely to visit mobile-oriented stores in 2015, and more than a third (36%) also said they would spend more.

Click and collect drives the most shoppers back into store, with 26% saying they would spend an additional 15 minutes in a store that offers click and collect, and spend an extra £18 per trip. Augmented reality was the second most important factor, with a quarter (24%) of shoppers saying that this would make them more likely to shop in a particular store, spending an extra 17.5 minutes and an additional £15.90 per visit.

A more personalised experience using intel taken from online shopping habits would encourage consumers to spend an extra £9.40 per trip, and pop-up notifications alerting consumers to most relevant products or discounts would make them spend an additional £9.80 per visit (full details in Table 1 below).

"In light of the continuing fall in foot traffic across high street stores, it's encouraging to see that there are mobile features that can help attract consumers back into shops to spend. A combination of more established features, like click and collect, and forward-thinking technologies like augmented reality are spiking consumer interest. Customers have indicated they want a personalised experience, so retailers should use data from online purchasing to drive strategy in-store," added Davenport.

Mobile retail can improve
The study also showed that while almost a quarter (23%) of consumers love mRetailing, 40% still feel this could be improved, while a third don't currently like using their mobile to shop.

Slow loading pages (64%), websites that freeze (49%) and too many products to sift through (46%) are the top three barriers for shoppers using mobile. Security (43%) and poor payment options (35%) were also a concern.

While mobile is now heavily integrated into consumer's discovery and product browsing behaviour, less than one fifth (20%) of shoppers use mobile to make a final purchase. Only 16% of retail apps were used "a lot" by consumers, according to the VoucherCodes.co.uk and Centre for Retail Research study. A quarter (27%) had been downloaded and never used.

"A key outtake from our research is the importance of simplicity and a seamless experience. Of customers that use mobile as their primary shopping device, almost half (44%) said they did so because it was convenient," said Davenport. "Problems like slow loading sites and poor payment options are preventing consumers from getting to the point of purchase. An astounding 40% feel mobile retail could be improved - retailers could potentially monetise this group if they improved their offering. In light of Google's recent announcement that it is changing its algorithm to adapt to the growing number of people using mobile for search, it is even more crucial that retailers update their mobile strategy."