Online retail sales are likely to reach £87 billion in 2013, which is a 12% rise according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. December saw year-on-year growth to the tune of 17.5% and a 12% month-on-month increase on November 2012.

Throughout 2012 it has been estimated that consumers spent £78 billion at online retail stores, but it was the end of the year that put in a particularly strong performance. The H2 period witnessed growth in the mid to late teens compared to the low teens in the first half of the year.

The Index recorded gains of 14% across all of 2012. The boost will have been strengthened by the proliferation of mobile and tablet hardware, which contributed to a sales surge of 304% on 2011. The figure could increase further thanks to the gifting of devices over the festive period.

Retailers’ mobile perseverance

Chris Webster, Head of Retail and Technology at Capgemini was amazed by mobile’s rapid evolution. “The big stand out is mobile commerce,” he said. “The developments in the technology and the steps taken by retailers to improve their mobile services have seen a shift from browsing, to a fully fledged commerce site integral to our shopping experience.”

One surprise was the slight drop in conversion rates between November and December. In the past, a rise of around 1% has been noted as the norm. One explanation for the tailing off is the burgeoning use of the internet as a research tool by consumers before buying online or off.

The healthy conversion rates were of particular comfort to eCommera’s Director of Mobile Solutions, Omid Rezvani. “It is most encouraging to see conversion rates now starting to reach a healthy percentage – indicating that retailers have made strong headway during 2012 in developing an acceptable mobile experience for customers,” he explained.