Mobile Migration: Online Shopping Goes Mobile in the U.K.

Mobile Migration: Online Shopping Goes Mobile in the U.K.

Shopping in the U.K. isn’t what it used to be. In fact, it’s not even what it was just a year ago. Today, retailers are finding that more and more consumers are shopping from their mobile devices rather than their desktops and laptops — a shift that presents new opportunities for interaction and engagement.

Data from Nielsen shows that the number of shoppers accessing major retail sites from their Android devices grew by an average of 48% in the 12 months ending June 2014. During that same period, the number of users visiting the same retail sites from their desktops and laptops decreased by an average of almost 20%. Of the retailers evaluated, Groupon experienced the biggest drop in desktop and laptop usage, across its audience base across these more traditional methods fell by one-third in the last year.

Today, Groupon’s mobile user base is bigger than its desktop/laptop user base. While retailer John Lewis also saw a 20% drop in its desktop/laptop user base, it more than doubled its mobile user base, which grew 114% year-over-year.

Year on Year comparison of desktop & laptop user base vs. Android (June 2014 vs. June 2013)

Despite the shift toward mobile devices, most retailers still have a larger desktop and laptop user base. With consumers’ Android usage now rivalling desktop/laptop usage for engaging with the majority of large retailers, Nielsen expects it won’t be long before mobile becomes the prevalent digital channel. Online entities attract the most mobile users in general, while brick-and-mortar retailers attract the least. That’s not always the case, as figure 2 shows that brick-and-mortar retailer Argos attracts as large a share of mobile users as Groupon.

Most Mobile: Ranking of the proportion of android monthly users to traditional PC monthly users (UK June 2014)

Consumers want to interact with retail brands online, and they’re increasingly using their mobile devices to do it. The opportunity for retailers to optimise their mobile experiences using location and immediacy is significant, as is the need to ensure a good small screen experience. It’s important for retailers to take the same approach with their advertising. If their customers are shifting to mobile, then their media budgets should follow suit.


The Android usage data was captured between June 2013 and June 2014 and studied using Nielsen’s Android Panel analysis. This tool passively measures and evaluates the device usage of more than 2,900 U.K. Android consumer panel members. The data for desktop and laptop usage is captured through Nielsen NetView, a continuous internet audience measurement service, which gives comprehensive demographic visitor figures for websites.