Mobile grocery sales are set to soar

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Shoppers like to use their smartphones to check our supermarket bargains
Shoppers like to use their smartphones to check our supermarket bargains

Related tags Mobile phone

Mobile phone commerce is set to surpass online sales via static devices, according to new research, leading retailers such as Sainsbury to invest heavily in better systems.

Consumers will spend £112bn a year on products including food and drink using their smartphones or tablets by 2024, a new survey from Barclays bank reveals. This compares with £9.7bn spent today and a predicted £52.25bn expected to be spent online using computers by the end of this year, it found.

Nearly half of all retail sales would involve a mobile device within the next 10 years, making mobile the fastest growing retail segment, it added.

If the growth in sales using a mobile phone was translated into traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ stores, it would require a chain of 30,000 shops, which was three times the size of Walmart’s (the world’s largest retailer) 11,000 outlets, said Richard Lowe, md and head of retail and wholesale at Barclays.

Lack of retail capacity

Not all retailers had the capability to deal with an increase in sales on mobile phones. Almost half (46%) of those asked said some of their sales were already generated through mobile devices, Lowe added.

“Less than 3% of retailers believed their business is at the cutting edge when it comes to being mobile ready and a further 70% said they did not currently offer a mobile website or app for consumers,”​ he said. “With new gadgets, such as the Apple Watch, being launched all of the time, this trend will inevitably gain momentum.”

In a bid to stay ahead of the growth, and in response to rising consumer demand for more convenient and intuitive ways to shop, Sainsbury last month announced 480 ‘specialist’ jobs at its digital labs in London and a new technology hub in Coventry.

Cut time in store

Sainsbury refused to disclose how much its customers spent using mobile phones, but said it was trialling a new shopping app. The app would build customers’ shopping baskets and cut the time spent in store and at the till, it said.

Jon Rudoe, digital and technology director at Sainsbury, said: “We know that a customer’s weekly shop doesn’t start at our front door – they know what they like and they also like to search for a bargain. They still want to come into store but – with limited time, they want to be able to get their shop done quickly.”

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