The upshot of Retail Week’s webinar on online Christmas trading is that retailers must now start to think about mobile as multiple channels.

With a selection of strong opinions among my guests on the webinar Retail Week ran earlier this week, I wasn’t sure whether there would be one point on which everyone on the panel would agree.

But actually throughout the debate on all aspects of Christmas trading online and the outlook for the sector in 2012, one topic kept rearing its head – mobile. Only, from what my panellists were saying, it might be time to stop talking about mobile as though it is one channel.

Shop Direct Group retail director Gareth Jones pointed out that the industry needs to be careful about lumping together figures for tablet and smart phone usage as the behaviour of his customers is showing that they should be used in quite different ways. He explained: “Tablet and iPad in particular, is much more closely aligned with what happened on fixed PC.”

In comparison “on mobile we see something dramatically different – more idle time being taken up by what I’m consuming on my mobile.” Jones added that as consumers are engaging with retailers on their mobile at times they wouldn’t have before – while commuting etc – it’s incremental engagement.

Meanwhile, Brand Alley UK chief executive Rob Feldmann added that 10% of the 61% total sales growth the retailer had seen in its fourth quarter last year was driven by the different varieties of mobile. He believes that retailers could be dealing with mobile sales levels two or three times higher during the Christmas peak in 2012; and as such said they must think about not only creating mobile sites for the devices available today, but new devices coming out that could quickly gain traction in the market.