Today sees the first report in a new service from Google and the British Retail Consortium that collects information about retail searches made online.
Ecommerce is by far the fastest-growing part of UK retailing – responsible for 9% of all UK retail spending compared with less than 4% in 2007 – but online retail data has not been issued in this way before.
Under the new service, every time someone goes on the internet and Googles a retail product that search is counted towards a total for the month and the quarter. The quarterly BRC – Google Online Retail Monitor also, amongst other things, quantifies the growth of mobile retail searches, gives a geographical breakdown of online retail activity and compares the performance of online-only retailers with those also using stores.
The first ORM, which covers January, February and March 2011, shows that total retail search volumes grew by 29% over the same quarter a year earlier while mobile retail search traffic outpaced overall growth, rising a staggering 181% over the same period.
Retail searches grew fastest for multi-channel retailers, which saw a rise of 42% year-on-year, compared with 19% for pure online retailers. And central and Greater London were the source of 46% of total retail searches.
The ORM also ranks the most popular retail search terms, and found that the top 10 in the first quarter were: boots, dresses, fancy dress, beds, kitchens, curtains, sofas, Ipod Touch, Amazon Kindle and Ipod Nano.
Commenting on the findings, BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Despite any short-term effects from weakening consumer confidence, what stands out here is the fundamental strength of the growth of online retailing. A 29% increase in retail searches in a year is a huge increase in potential shoppers.”
He went on: “The star performer is mobile. A threefold increase reveals customers are taking to Smartphone and tablet shopping very rapidly. The rise of mobile use to one in 10 searches sends a valuable message to any forward-thinking retailer that doesn’t yet have an m-commerce platform.”
Meanwhile, Google’s retail director, Peter Fitzgerald, described the launch of the ORM as “a big step in understanding online consumer behaviour across retail categories”.