Are Mobiles and Tablets Set to Wipe Out PC Shopping?

Fears have been voiced for years that online shopping could be the death of the high street. But it appears the real competition lies between the devices themselves …


According to a new report from PwC titled Achieving Total Retail, consumers are becoming less inclined to fire up their PC or laptop when it comes to browsing and buying online. Instead, they are turning towards the added convenience of using their smartphones and tablets.


In fact, most of the real growth in the retail sector is coming from mobile devices. Shopping via smartphone has shot up by 46 per cent year-on-year, the report shows, while tablet usage has risen by 56 per cent over the same period. In contrast, PC shopping actually declined by seven per cent – faster even than the high street itself, since in-store purchases fell by just five per cent.

Some 37 per cent of internet shoppers make a purchase every week, so it is likely that convenience plays a major factor in these developments. With so-called “second screening” – using a smartphone or tablet while watching television or using another device – now second nature to many users, it seems handheld devices are now the weapon of choice for an army of avid consumers.


“Consumers are choosing the shopping method that suits them best, and whilst store decline has been visible for a number of years, it now seems to be the turn of the PC to suffer as consumer shopping behaviour continues to evolve,” says Matthew Tod, PwC UK retail and digital partner.

PwC says the pattern is consistent around the world, meaning the pressure is on for retailers to adapt to changing client needs. This is especially true if brand loyalty is going to become even more vital: the report shows consumers are focusing their purchasing power with fewer different companies. More than half of UK respondents to the survey said they shopped online with five different brands or less.


Interestingly, price was not the biggest motivating factor, even though two-thirds had said they shopped online because they could find better deals. In fact, 85 per cent of respondents said they shopped with their preferred brands simply out of trust. Shoppers may be seeking better online shopping experiences, but security and reliability are still their primary concerns.


<Principal image courtesy Jason Howie/Some rights reserved>

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