LONDON: The rapid uptake of smartphones by UK consumers over the past five years has been accompanied by a rise in m-commerce so that more than half of smartphone owners now browse for items on their device and more than one third go on to buy.

According to the latest research from eDigitalResearch, consumer confidence in the mobile channel has followed the same path as that seen earlier in e-commerce, with people starting out with small, low-value purchases and progressing to larger, more expensive items. Overall it has grown by 666% in the past five years.

Smartphones have quickly become an integral part of the shopping journey, as 54% use them to browse and 36% to buy, with clothing and footwear the items most likely to be bought this way.

"Smartphones have had a fundamental effect on all shopping journeys, not just online, but in store as well," said Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch.

"Our tracking over the years has revealed that over one third (36%) of consumers now use their mobiles when out shopping to check product and customer reviews alone."

It was not too fanciful to suggest that soon every transaction could involve a mobile device at some point in the shopping journey. "It signals the importance for retailers to optimise every part of their customer experience, from online to in store," stated Eccleston.

And that need can only become more urgent as the introduction of 4G leads to faster connection speeds and consumers becoming even more reliant on their mobile devices.

Developments such as Beacon technology also promise to transform the mobile experience, with more than half (54%) of smartphone owners open to receiving personalised messages from retailers.

"Beacon technology has the ability to drive the m-commerce revolution onto the next level," said Eccleston. He described the facility to deliver such content to smartphone owners as they wandered past a store as "the final piece of the jigsaw when it comes to multichannel".

Data sourced from eDigitalResearch; additional content by Warc staff