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Mobile commerce sales will reach $11.6B in 2012: eMarketer

Mobile commerce sales will increase 91.4 percent this year to reach a total of $6.7 billion, according to a new report from eMarketer.

In 2012, mobile commerce sales will rise another 73.1 percent for a total of $11.6 billion. The fast pace of mobile commerce growth is helping to drive overall ecommerce growth by converting potential bricks-and-mortar sales to digital sales for consumers using their smartphones while shopping in-store.

“Despite the strong growth that we are forecasting, mobile commerce still represents a very small share of total ecommerce sales,” said Jeffrey Grau, principal analyst at eMarketer, New York.

“I think that if you look at the mobile shopper versus mobile buyers numbers that we forecast, you reach the conclusion that people are really using smartphones to do product research and find retailers but are really much less enamored in using them to make a purchase.”

Smartphone shoppers
EMarketer forecasts 37.5 million US consumers ages 14 and up will make at least one purchase on their mobile phone next year, up from 26.8 million this year. The vast majority – 97 percent — will be smartphone owners.

Overall, 72.8 million mobile users will research or browse items on their phone next year but not necessarily make a purchase.

By 2015, the total volume of sales coming in via mobile is forecast to reach $31 billion.

EMarketer’s estimates of mcommerce sales includes sales of physical goods as well as travel and event ticket purchases. It does not include digital downloads, use of mobile phones as a point of sale payment mechanism or purchases made from tablet devices.

The growth of mobile is changing shopping behavior, with more consumers using mobile in-store to compare prices.

“A lot of the action is taking place in store and is creating a different kind of cross shopping dynamic,” Mr. Grau said. “Before, consumers were mainly researching products from a PC, then hours or days later, they would go in to a store to make a purchase.

“Now shoppers are in the store , using the phone to either strengthen ties with retailer to make a purchase, or maybe making a purchase online as a result of finding a better deal on a competitor’s site,” he said.

“This has implications for retailers’ mobile offerings and how they train their sales associates.”

The growing use of mobile in the shopping experience underlines the need for retailers to have robust mobile offerings that meet shoppers’ expectation and steer in-store shoppers to look online via mobile for more information about products. This will help retailers retain sales that might have gone elsewhere.

“Retailers are lagging behind consumer adoption of mobile commerce,” Mr. Grau said. “They need to speed up their mobile programs and mobile offerings.”

“Each year, smartphones are making a large impact in terms of the traffic that is coming from phones to retail stores as well as the percentage of sales,” he said. “These are growing and are really beginning to make a discernable impact on retailer’s holiday sales.

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