mCommerce Worth £19.3bn by 2021

British consumers are set to spend £19.3bn using their mobile phones and tablets within the next 10 years, compared with £1.3bn spent today, according to new research by Barclays Corporate.

The convenience of amending shopping lists, making payments and arranging delivery times via mobile means that food and groceries will remain the most popular ‘on the go’ mobile purchase, ringing up sales of nearly £300m for supermarkets and grocery stores this year. By 2021, Barclays Corporate believes this figure will top £5bn. Electricals are the second most popular mobile purchase, with £290m due to be spent via a smartphone or tablet this year. By 2021, sales are predicted to reach £2.1bn, but according to the Barclays stats, electrical goods will fall back to fourth position, in value terms, in the rankings. Personal care, which includes hair care, beauty, dental and baby products will enjoy the strongest growth, with mCommerce sales rising from £63m in 2011 to £3.1bn in 10 years’ time.

“mCommerce is still a relatively niche channel, accounting for 0.5 per cent of total retail spend,” notes Richard Lowe, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays Corporate. “However, with little new shop space coming into play, the real growth opportunities lie on the virtual high street, and those retailers which are prepared to invest will be at a significant advantage to the competition.”

According to the report, mCommerce revenues will grow by 55 per cent over the next five years – the fastest growth rate of any retail channel. This compares to expected growth of 8 per cent for online sales and 1.6 per cent for in-store sales. Mail order is expected to shrink by 1.2 per cent. Total 2021 total retail sales are expected to be worth some £390bn, with mCommerce accounting for 4.9 per cent of the total. 

mCommerce Fast Facts 

  • £19.3bn – total mCommerce spend by 2021 (2011: £1.3bn)
  • 55 per cent – expected growth rate of m-commerce over the next five years
  • 52 per cent – proportion of consumers already using mobile devices at one or more stages of the shopping process
  • £5bn – total mCommerce spend on food and groceries by 2021 (2011: £300m)
  • Baby, health and beauty products (personal care) – fastest growing sub-sector
  • £3.1bn – total mCommerce spend on personal care by 2021 (2011: £63m)