Consumers are spending more and more time on mobile screens.

Consumers are spending more and more time on mobile screens, whether for socializing, gaming, watching video, reading the news or, increasingly, shopping. “The most significant shift of the past twelve months in how we shopped has been the rise of mobile as a go-to way to shop,” notes U.K. department store John Lewis in its second annual report on How We Shop, Live & Look. Mobile traffic to its website passed desktop traffic on Christmas Day 2013 and never looked back; more than half its web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. Meanwhile Branding Brand, which powers m-commerce sites and apps, reports that in the U.S., this tipping point to mobile shopping was reached in August. (Just four years ago, by contrast, Branding Brand says only 4 percent of online retails visits in the U.S. came through mobile.)

Rise of the Mobile Shopper

At the same time, John Lewis emphasizes that mobile must be considered in context. Brick-and-mortar remains important for its customers, with 70 percent of transactions still occurring in the stores. (Our data point last week focused on the continuing importance of physical stores.) Online ordering coupled with in-store pick-up has also become popular, for instance. Consumers want omnichannel shopping experiences, and the retailers that succeed will be the ones that can integrate online and offline seamlessly. As IBM notes in its Retail 2020 report, Amazon and other online retailers “are forcing traditional retailers to rethink their value propositions and embrace multichannel retailing as the only way to survive. Traditional retailers don’t have much time to get it right.”