LONDON: Mobile shopping in the UK could grow by 113% in a year with the widespread uptake of 4G networks, meaning retailers must enhance their capabilities in this area, according to new research.

Retail analysts Conlumino and eBay, the online retailer, interviewed 2,081 consumers about their mobile habits and opinions on 4G, along with existing data on consumer habits and mobile spend.

It found that the major frustrations for mobile shoppers in the UK included speed, cited by slightly more than half of respondents (50.3%), and reliability, mentioned by just under half (49.6%).

The advent of universal 4G, however, is expected to address these issues and so increase the likelihood that consumers will shop via smartphones or tablets.

Currently, mobile shopping in the UK is worth £1.59bn but the study suggested that this could rise to £1.8bn within a year.

"The arrival of universal 4G will bring with it a more immersive, instant and intimate shopping experience than ever before," said Olivier Ropars, senior director of mcommerce at eBay Europe, "putting the most exciting features of mobile retail as we know it into high definition."

"It won't just turbo-charge the way we shop," he added. "It will truly give us the ability to shop anytime, anywhere."

"Retailers must act now and think about the virtual shop window, to turn this huge opportunity into an exciting reality," he urged. 

His comments were echoed by Neil Saunders, director at Conlumino. "Retailers today must take every chance to engage consumers," he said, "inspiring them and giving them every possible opportunity to buy and interact with their brands."

"An omnichannel approach is key to making this happen," he declared "and with universal 4G on the horizon, retailers can't afford to stand still."

The Internet Advertising Bureau has noted that leading  brands in the UK are starting to address the issue of mobile, with 57% of the country's top 100 brands boasting websites tailored for mobile handsets in January 2013, up from 37% in August 2012.

"Our research shows that the industry is moving in the right direction," said Alex Kozloff, the IAB's senior mobile manager. "However, with over 40% of the top 100 brands still not optimised there is still more to do to encourage brands to integrate mobile into their wider strategies."

Data sourced from Fourth Source, IAB; additional content by Warc staff