Smartphones have overtaken desktop computers to become the main device used for online retail sales, according to data from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

The data found that the share of online retail sales revenue made using a smartphone was 40.4% in fourth quarter (Q4) 2018/19. The share of sales revenue via desktop came in at 39.7%, with tablet sales behind at 19.9%. Smartphones also accounted for over 70% of mobile device sales for the first time in December 2018.

The findings also revealed that UK consumers are using mobile devices more often to shop on online retail sites, with 74.3% of site visits made via mobile devices versus 25.7% made via desktops in Q4.

Capgemini reported that the “percentage of visits coming through smartphones and tablets versus desktops was even” in 2015.

IMRG strategy and insight director Andy Mulcahy said: “This is another significant step in smartphones becoming the dominant device through which we manage so many aspects of our lives. It has taken a little while though – the iPhone was first released in 2007, and for a long time people were visiting product pages through smartphones in large numbers but then completing purchases elsewhere. It wasn’t until late-2015 when it started to really gain traction as a fully transactional device for online shopping.

“This does not spell the end of other devices being used for online retail purchases, however – people tend to use multiple devices depending on which is most convenient. So, for example, during standard working hours, a higher proportion of sales come through desktop as people are sat in front of their computers at work.”

Capgemini Invent retail analytics senior consultant Lucy Gibbs said: “Smartphones make it is easier than other forms to be truly omnichannel, which is about being where your customers are and therefore are optimally placed for influencing the retail customer journey. The advancements over the last few years in mobile banking, in-app purchases and a greater focus on optimising m-commerce sites have all led to the facilitation and increased confidence in purchasing on smartphones.

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“Although smartphones have now reached the largest share in revenue, they are still seeing the lowest conversion rates, behind tablets and desktop. However, the significance of our use of mobile in influencing our buying decisions should not be underestimated even when we are completing purchases elsewhere.”