As 2013 came to a close it was clear that the mobile land grab continued, with mobile users taking advantage of retailer’s web sites that offered a mobile responsive experience. 2014 could well be the tipping point as users move away from desktop driven web experiences towards mobile and smartphone interactions. The opportunities that have been leveraged by large and forward thinking retailers will flow down into niche and SME retailers quickly. Responsive web design will move from being an option to an essential. The increased use of tablets and smartphones combined with intelligent, fast delivery and click to collect tactics led to a sharp rise in online shopping before Christmas. Web sales growth accelerated to 19.2% compared with the same month in 2012 – the fastest rate for more than three years, whilst UK retail sales overall grew a mere 0.4% on a like for like basis. Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) survey carried out by KPMG showed online trade represented 18.6% of total non-food sales in December, up from 16.5% the year before. BRC director general Helen Dickinson is quoted as saying “online non-food sales growth put in its best performance since March 2010 accounting for nearly 20% of spending. The surge in the use of tablets and smartphones last year, together with the ever-faster delivery times achieved by an increasing number of retailers, has provided a new spur of growth to online shopping.” David McCorquodale, KPMG head of retail, said: “Whilst store sales continue to flat line, online sales remain the main driver of growth for the sector, contributing nearly three quarters of the uptick in non-food sales in the last quarter of 2013. “The winners this Christmas were those retailers with slick multichannel operations, who could offer consumers the flexibility to shop how, and when, they wanted to.” Retailers such as Morrisions who lag behind in the online experience suffered this year, and this will no doubt continue to be the case. It is also interesting that overall sales art the supermarkets was flat or down, suggesting that the online shopping experience results in less ‘impulse’ buying reducing the overall basket spend. Something retailers will need to consider as part of their on-going e-commerce strategies. E-commerce solution providers are moving quickly to establish their credentials in a responsive world, with Magento being one of the fastest growing players in the SME marketplace. Word on the street is that this is one to watch, as there is rumour of an announcement by its owners eBay that Magento will be linked up to the eBay Enterprise suite of back office tools, providing mid to large retailers with the tools to deliver on an Omni-channel fully mobile responsive solution for their customers. One thing is for sure – 2014 is the year of the mobile web experience. We recommend anyone with a transacting web site to make it responsive as soon as possible… Commentary by Roger Martin F IDM, based on opinion and information from himself and various credited sources.