Overall spend via mobile phones and tablets will take off over the next five years yet Verdict’s latest survey of online shopping indicates that instead of mobiles driving the increases in sales it’s tablet computers.

The UK spend on mobile and tablets is predicted to grow from £7.9bn in 2013 to hit £23.1bn in 2018, according to research from Verdict. The major driving factor on ecommerce will be the proliferation of tablet ownership and the resulting fall in laptop spend.

In the Verdict survey of 10,000 online shoppers in October 2013 its tablets that now account for the majority of sales ie sales are made at home and not on the go on mobile devices. Only 2% of online transactions were made outside of the home or workplace and tablet transactions accounted for 56% of sales.

Why is this significant? The emergence of the tablet has driven m-commerce into the living room, so you can’t now really say that tablets are mobile devices at all. The previous definition of m-commerce – sales through tablets and mobile phones wherever they take place – looks obsolete to Verdict and also to other retail sources such as IMRG and Cap Gemini who reported separate statistics for mobile sales in September. In an Econsultancy blog  which  analysed the statistics from IMRG and Capgemini; mobile devices now account for all online sales growth since 2011, figures excluding mobile have seen a steady decline and 23% of all online sales came from mobile devices (including Tablets) in 2013.

What effect does this have on UK retailers? Up until now retailers were most likely working on the premise that consumers would be busily spending on their mobiles whilst they were out and about such as in bus and train stations, airports and whilst queueing for a cup of coffee. Actually people are are using their smartphones for comparing prices and finding product information and then doing their shopping at home sitting on the sofa.

The lack of mobile purchases shows a lack of trust in public Wi-Fi and mobile telecommunications networks, as consumers may browse while connected to them, but are reluctant to make purchases probably with connection issue and security concerns.

Retailers also need to think more about how they design their sites and Responsive Web Design – the approach many retailers take to web development so that different reformatted versions of the same web pages are shown on different screen sizes. They need to respond to the location of the user as well as the size of the screen they are using, as location has a major influence on what they want from the site. Retailers need to ensure that if consumers browse products while out and about, there are easy, intuitive ways for them to tag products so that a purchase can be completed when they return home, and on any device.

It’s almost certain that m-commerce will continue to increase as a proportion of online sales however it’s also important for retailers to try and get a better view of the entire customer journey, rather than just focusing on which device or channel actually achieves the conversion.