In the UK, customers' buying habits are changing.

February 2015

People now use an average of three devices [1] and with 32% of them making a purchase every month on a smartphone, the UK is now the number one country in Europe for mobile shopping [1]. Now more than ever, consumers use multiple devices to search for, research and buy products while at home, in the office and on the move.

This is a huge opportunity. Certainly, brands must respond to the changing needs of their existing customers so they don't lose their custom. On the other hand, they can win new customers, as people look for services and products motivated by their context, whether on the high street or on the sofa, browsing with whatever device is closest to hand. To take advantage of this, your website must work well for users on smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.

Customers want the same user experience, whatever the device

To accomplish a task, 90% of people move sequentially from one device to another [2], with 67% of these moving from screen to screen while shopping. It's surely no coincidence that as people use more devices, we see an increase in many online activities. In 2014, 83% of UK consumers use the Internet daily up — from 75% the year before. More crucially, 77% buy online today compared to 72% in 2013 [1].

In a recent interview with us, Dixons Retail highlighted a huge growth in customers visiting their site across devices, from browsing products to using mobile when picking up goods from the store. "Nearly twice as many reservations come from mobile devices than desktop devices, because they're on the way, reserving the product," says Jeremy Fennell, director of multichannel at Dixons Retail [3]. Key to their impressive results was Dixons Retail's use of responsive design, one of the key approaches to designing websites for multiple screens, alongside a focus on mobile.

For brands to keep up with today's customers, sites must "just work" whatever screen they happen to be on. Customers don't want to pinch and slide the screen to view your content. And they don't want to struggle — to get pages to load, fill out a form or make a purchase — on their smartphone.

See the below report for more details on why a mobile-friendly site is now mandatory and top tips on how to set up or improve your site for all devices.

A good user experience is critical, yet many brands neglect it and lose customers

With 67% of mobile users more likely to order from a mobile-friendly site [4], people are highly influenced by their experience of your site on different devices. A great experience means a happy customer, but provide a poor experience and you may risk losing them to your competitors. In fact, 61% of people who visit a site that's not optimised for mobile will go elsewhere [4].

A mobile-friendly site has to be part of your overall multi-screen plan. Still, it's a challenge for brands to deliver a great experience for all these screens and their contexts. And this is where many of today's marketers are far behind their users.

There are three ways to make your site work on any screen

There are three main approaches: responsive web design, dynamic serving and separate sites. Many factors come into play when deciding which path to take. In the end, you know your business needs and the needs of your customers best. Our new white paper "Any Place, Any Time, Any Device [5]" offers the latest tips to succeed with all three approaches.

Some brands are starting to wake up to the opportunity and see great results

Over the last few years, the conversation around cross-device optimisation has grown louder and many brands are realising that it pays to keep ahead. So far, 58% of the top 100 advertisers have mobile-friendly sites. That figure breaks down as 11% implementing responsive web design and 47% creating separate mobile sites [6].

Using responsive web design as their multi-screen strategy, Plusnet have found it easier to maintain both content and a consistent experience. "We felt responsive web design was the best solution for developing content that will work across all devices — making it as future-proof as possible," says Ben Fretwell, online marketing manager for Plusnet. Since launch, sales have grown tenfold on smartphones and tablets year on year [7], and time taken for users on smartphones and tablets to convert has decreased by 40%.

Having designed a mobile-optimised site in 2010, Autoglass now invest in mobile search advertising and see great returns. "We've seen a significant uplift in traffic, spend and bookings due to mobile search which now accounts for 23% of our total search traffic," says Paul Kasamias [8], search director of SMG, Autoglass' online marketing partner. Autoglass have seen sales have grown tenfold on smartphones and tablets year on year as a result of the new approach.

Make your site work across devices and win more customers

More and more devices are coming to market and consumers are evermore mobile in their research and purchase habits. Brands must respond with a good experience across devices or risk losing customers. But with a user-focused, mobile-friendly website as part of a multi-screen strategy, they stand to win many more.

Now is the time to make your website work across devices, deliver for you and delight your customers.

Matt Brocklehurst
Product Marketing Manager, Google


  1. [1] Global enumeration study, TNS/Google, Global, Q1 2014
  2. [2] The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior, Google and Ipsos MetdiaCT, US, August 2013
  3. [3] Multi-Screen Success Stories UK: Dixons Retail Full Interview, Google, UK, December 2013
  4. [4] What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today, Google/Sterling Research/SmithGeiger, US, July 2012
  5. [5] Any Place, Any Time, Any Device, Google, US, May 2013
  6. [6] Mobile Site Optimisation Study III, IAB, UK, September 2013
  7. [7] Plusnet Uses Responsive Web Design, Sees Traffic Grow 2x and Sales 10x on Smartphones and Tablets, Google, UK, August 2013
  8. [8] Autoglass drives bookings with mobile site and mobile search ads, Google, UK, February 2014