Small firms miss out on rising mobile spend

Small businesses are not keeping up with online shopping trends, as mobile commerce goes mainstream.

A new poll of more than 2,000 small businesses and 2,000 consumers conducted by PayPal shows that the rate at which consumers are choosing to shop on a mobile device is overtaking online shopping by four to one in the UK.

Nearly 60% of millennials browse for new purchases on their smartphone every day and 30% of all Brits expect to use their smartphones to shop more often in the next 12 months, rising to 44% for 16 to 25-year olds.

Despite this, only 18% of small businesses in the UK have a website that adapts to a smartphone or tablet. It means that 82% of UK small businesses could be missing out on the mobile shopping boom.

The estimated annual spend on mobile nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017 - from £13.5bn to £27bn. According to PayPal, it is expected to reach £43 billion by 2020.

The research also found that while shoppers of all ages are embracing new mobile-friendly payment methods such as digital wallets (preferred by one in three online shoppers), 40% of small businesses have never reviewed how they take payments.

For over a third of businesses, the average value of an individual sale is between £10 and £30, but PayPal's research shows that consumers are willing to pay up to three times that on digital devices: £84 on a smartphone, £103 on a tablet and £147 on a laptop.

"It is more important than ever that businesses adapt," said Nicola Longfield, director of small business at PayPal UK. "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."

The profile of a UK mobile shopper is very similar to an online shopper, added Longfield. "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."

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