mobile shopping

Most small businesses based in the UK are missing out on the boom in mobile shopping by not having websites that are fully optimised for visits from smartphones and tablets, new research suggests.

Overall consumer appetite for mobile shopping is growing quickly: the estimated annual spend on mobile nearly doubled from £13.5bn to £27bn from 2016 to 2017 and it is estimated to hit £43bn by 2020, a survey from Paypal has found.

The research reveals a growing gap between online shoppers’ mobile preferences and what small businesses are offering, which could be costing them potential sales.


Mobile shopping growth is outstripping overall online spending by four to one in the UK and this trend looks set to continue, with 30% of Brits expecting to use their smartphones to shop more often in the next 12 months, rising to 44% for 16 to 25-year olds.

Mobile devices are already central to today’s shopping experience with 59% of millennials browsing for new purchases on their smartphone every day, Paypal said.

Despite this, only 18% of UK small businesses have a website that is friendly for mobile devices, an increase of just 1% on 2016.

This figure is likely to be a result of businesses’ reluctance to adapt, with 33% respondents in the Paypal survey saying they don’t need a business site because they ‘do well enough as it is’.

Commenting on the findings, Nicola Longfield, director of small business at PayPal UK, said: “With mobile web browsing overtaking desktop for the first-time last year, it is more important than ever that businesses adapt. Bridging the gap between customer expectation and what businesses are offering need not be daunting. There are small changes businesses can make to give themselves a boost, and the top item should be making websites more mobile friendly for smartphone or tablet. Shoppers are increasingly frustrated by websites which require them to pinch the screen to zoom in and scroll endlessly to find miniature checkout buttons.

“Knowing your customer is all-important. The profile of a UK mobile shopper is very similar to an online shopper, so it really is a case of fine-tuning business practices to make the most of customers’ habits. This could be sharing promotions on customers’ favourite social channels, scheduling marketing emails to coincide with peak mobile shopping times, or simply offering recognisable payment options to give shoppers that extra confidence in their purchases.”