US mobile commerce revenues are set to almost double this year to hit USD6.7bn, according to new research by eMarketer, as consumers increasingly use their smartphones for shopping. The research firm claims that while mobile commerce still represents a fraction of overall online spend, the steep incline is set to continue in the coming years, with spend hitting USD11.6bn in 2012, a 73.1% rise year on year, and USD31bn by 2015. eMarketer’s research, which does not include tablet sales or sales of digital goods such as music downloads, is indicative of shifting consumer habits in developed markets, as they increasingly opt for quicker and more convenient commerce experiences.
“For years, the trend has been for consumers to research products online, then go buy in-store. But as the industry improves its slate of mobile offerings, consumers are increasingly visiting stores to research products, then go buy something else on their mobile devices,” says eMarketer analyst, Jeffrey Grau.
However, for all the consumers purchasing goods via their mobile, many simply browse, indicating that the space has plenty of room for growth as it seeks to convert interested consumers into paying customers. eMarketer forecasts that 37.5m Americans will purchase at least one product via mobile in 2012, up from 26.8m this year. That figure represents a little more than half the 72.8m that will research or browse products via their device.
Speaking to StrategyEye, Grau says that mobile location-based technology will prove to be crucial for driving commerce, both on devices and in store, with services such as Foursquare’s Radar demonstrating how retailers can link mobile with physical stores. “Being able to target where that person is, and even who they are, knowing their purchase history will allow a retailer, theoretically, to send them relevant offers to get them into the store,” he says.
Mobile appears to be playing an increasingly important role in driving e-commerce, with IBM research last month asserting that it accounted for almost 10% of total thanksgiving and Black Friday spend. PayPal claims that its global mobile payment volume for thanksgiving increased 511% year on year.
Though eMarketer hasn’t included tablet sales in its forecasts, it appears that the devices are already becoming a driver of mobile commerce, with research by Forrester earlier this year asserting that they account for 20% of mobile e-commerce sales, despite only 9% of shoppers owning one.