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Mobile sales will exceed 20pc during the holidays: IBM

Smartphones and tablets played a bigger role in this year’s back-to-school shopping season, suggesting more good news for the mobile industry during the upcoming holiday season, according to a new report from IBM.

During the back-to-school shopping months of July and August, mobile generated 15.7 percent and 15.4 percent of online sales, respectively. With mobile sales exceeding 20 percent in August for verticals such as home goods, signs point to mobile sales well exceeding 20 percent this coming holiday season, per IBM.  

“Mobile had a breakout holiday season in 2011 and we have seen that that wasn’t just a holiday bump,” said Jay Henderson, global strategy program director at IBM, Armonk, NY.

“We have seen strong performance from mobile throughout the year and back to school is no exception,” he said. “We saw mobile as more than 15 percent of sales.

“We are clearly poised to see mobile sales reach 20 percent or higher this upcoming holiday season.”

Retailers find mobile success
Mobile share of online sales during the 2012 back-to-school shopping is up from 6 percent during July of 2011.

In the home goods category, mobile sales reached 19.1 percent in July and 20.2 percent in August.

For department stores, mobile sales totaled 19.2 percent in July and 19 percent in August.

For apparel stores, mobile sales were 15.1 percent in July and 16.5 percent in August.

Social commerce grows
Social commerce also posted strong results for the back-to-school season.

Shoppers referred to retailer sites from social networks generated 1.6 percent of all sales in July, an increase of 25.1 percent over last year. In August, the number reached 1.8 percent, a 72 percent increase over the previous year.

The mobile results were slightly lower for office supply/electronics stores, which saw mobile account for 5.7 percent of sales in July and 5.9 percent in August.

Some categories saw stronger growth than others in social commerce. In the apparel category, shoppers referred to online stores through social networks generated 2.2 percent of all sales in August, up more than 112 percent over 2011.

Mobile’s growth outpaced growth overall online sales, which grew 11 percent in July and just 0.5 percent in August. Mobile also outpaced online sales, which grew 22.1 percent in July and 24.5 percent in August.

“We are also seeing an increase in consumers shopping from their tablets, helping to fuel this new concept of ‘couch commerce,’” Mr. Henderson said.  “The iPad is contending for the number two device, neck and neck with Android.

“What is important to keep in mind there is, when we say ‘Android’ we mean all Android devices – so it is really astonishing that the iPad, a singular device, is giving all Android devices a run for their money,” he said.

“We are also keeping our eye on social sharing via mobile devices, which is promising as customers tell their friends what they bought and what they like.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York