Over the past ten years, the Internet has revolutionised commerce. It has given consumers access to new and more varied products. It has made it possible for SMEs to access new global markets. And it has dramatically increased price transparency and competition, so consumers can benefit from lower prices and better service. But the speed of change we have seen over the past ten years is likely to be nothing compared to the change we will see over the next five.

Four key trends are likely to shape consumer behaviour and the future of retail over the next few years – mobile, local, social, and digital. Each of them is significant in and of itself. But taken together, they have the potential to completely alter the future of retail and the way we do business.

The most important of these is mobile because it moves us towards a world where we will be connected all the time. Consumers now have in effect a ‘store in their pocket’ and the ability to perform all sorts of functions on a single device – everything from shopping, store location, shopping lists, in-store price comparison, self-scanning and self-checkout, earning loyalty points, and redeeming vouchers and coupons.

Mobile shopping represents a massive economic opportunity for the UK, promising to deliver a £4.5bn boost to Britain’s economy by 2016, and a further £13bn by 2021 according to Verdict research, commissioned by eBay. The volume of mobile internet data is tripling every year and the Government expects it to increase 26 fold by 2015.
In the future, we anticipate that all consumer spending will in some way be influenced by the Internet, mainly through mobile devices. As a result, phrases like e-commerce or m-commerce will become increasingly meaningless. There will just be commerce.

We believe passionately that the Internet is an enormous opportunity for UK plc, and that the Internet – and specifically the mobile Internet – is the new growth story for retailers. We are therefore offering a series of recommendations on how policymakers and industry can support these developments and make the UK a world leader in web enabled commerce.