More Shopping on Smartphone than Tablet; Overstock Collaborates with Databricks

RetailTechNews rounds up some of the biggest stories in the European retail technology space. In this week’s edition: Shopping via smartphone vs tablet; Overstock and Databricks collaborate; and Last-minute Christmas shopping in full swing.

More shopping on smartphone than on tablet

In the UK, spending on purchases made by using a smartphone will amount to almost £18bn. That is the latest prediction from eMarketer. The staggering number also means that smartphone sales are now overtaking e-commerce sales made by tablet. Smartphone purchases will have a 49.7% share of all retail m-commerce sales; while tablet purchases will account for 49.4% of m-commerce. The remainder of the share refers to sales made via a feature phone. eMarketer expects retail e-commerce purchases via smartphone sales to rise to a share of 56.0% of all m-commerce sales by 2021.

Source: eMarketer

The figures represent the changing m-commerce habits of users in the UK. While tablet penetration in the UK is among the highest in Europe, growth has recently flattened due to improving smartphone capabilities and the availability of large-screen devices.

E-commerce spending is forecast to hit £83.55bn this year, eMarketer says. The number accounts for more than 19% of total retail sales. And online shopping is set to grow steadily: by 2021, more than a quarter (25.8%) of all retail sales will be digital, eMarketer predicts.

“To put that into context, the proportion in the US will be less than half of the UK total this year, at just 9.0%”, said Bill Fisher, senior analyst at eMarketer. “Indeed, outside of China, the UK is the world’s most advanced retail e-commerce market, in terms of proportional sales. And despite, or perhaps because of, the current economic uncertainty in the UK, e-commerce sales continue to post strong growth.”

Overstock collaborates with Databricks for customised shopping experience

A collaboration between Databricks and Overstock brings new data science capabilities to Overstock. Choosing Databricks’ Unified Analytics Platform, Overstock can make use of the cloud infrastructure to enhance their services on the basis of machine learning.

Tapping into data science capabilities by way of a collaboration became necessary for Overstock in order to convert more site visits and page views into purchases. Rather than develop a data science solution from the ground up, Overstock decided to leverage Databricks’ offerings in order to analyse data and optimise the customer click-through rate to keep up with the changing market conditions throughout the year.

Source: Overstock/Databricks

The new data science capabilities will be employed to personalise the shopping experience, aiming for more conversions. According to the companies, has decreased the cost of moving models to production by nearly 50% and data scientists can stand up new models five-times faster than previously required.

“We want all the data, all the time, and all in near real-time, in order to make smart business decisions. Instead of focusing on our critical data problems and models, our data scientists found themselves dealing with the complexities of managing infrastructure”, explains Chris Robison, head of marketing data science at “It was our goal to provide our data scientists with the most innovative tools that allow them to be effective at what they do best – solving data problems. With Databricks, our new cloud stack is like getting a seat in first class. It’s just the way flying (or data science-ing) should be.”

Christmas shopping expected to last until the last minute

In an update to their recent Holiday Spending Survey, Accenture are predicting that 29% of consumers are leaving their Christmas shopping to the last minute, making their last purchases on Christmas Eve. The majority of people, however, are spreading their Christmas shopping over the year, 48% of those surveyed responded. Almost half (49%) of the last minute shoppers are heading out on Christmas Eve to do their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

Savvy online shoppers are also looking for deals during the traditional Boxing Day sales. Almost two-thirds (63%) will do their Boxing Day shopping online. “The last-minute shopping dash is a big opportunity for retailers”, said Jill Ross, a managing director in Accenture’s UK Retail practice. “To capitalise on this and drive sales, retailers could look to streamline search capabilities and curate the experience to help customers find what they are looking for, and help customers find things they don’t yet know they’re looking for.”

“Consumers are hunting down the best deals and the most thoughtful gifts across both digital and physical channels”, said Ross. “Retailers must invest in their user experience to deliver a seamless customer journey – from the first moment a customer spots your product to when it is sitting under the Christmas tree.”