In Depth

Mobile Commerce Sales Set To Surge To $142B In 2016

A new report from Forrester Research, “U.S. Mobile Phone And Tablet Commerce Forecast, 2015 to 2020,” predicted mobile commerce transactions will exceed $115 billion in 2015 and skyrocket to $142 billion next year.

“We project that mobile phones will generate 15 percent of eCommerce sales by 2020, and tablets will generate 33 percent of eCommerce sales in the same time frame,” Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said in the report.

“Given that mobile devices are moving toward becoming a primary computing device, why aren’t those figures higher?”

Forrester’s report highlights the challenge facing conversions on mobile; while almost one-third of merchants’ online traffic is originating on mobile devices, the amount of actual sales taking place only represents 11 percent.

“Shoppers experience slow download speeds on smartphones in particular, and few retailers have managed to increase their mobile conversion rates over the years,” Mulpuru explained.

“Additionally, the vast majority of mobile sales are only in three categories, which means that most shopping categories are underpenetrated and have a long way to go to experience success in mobile commerce.”

But there are retailers who have found success through commerce innovation on the mobile platform. Forrester estimated that Amazon and eBay capture about one-third of all shopping done on mobile within the U.S.

“While retailers may lament their low conversion rates and slow download speeds on mobile devices, shoppers still keep shopping on those devices,” Mulpuru stated.

“In fact, the majority of customers experience onerous problems, but they forge forward in spite of them and appear to have greater tolerance for imperfection, much like in the early days of desktop.”

Millennials are also doing their part to spur mCommerce growth.

Roughly 40 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 24 worldwide are using a mobile device to shop online each month, according to a quarterly mCommerce report from GlobalWebIndex.

That compares with 36 percent of all online adults, the Q1 GWI report said. In addition, one-fifth of all Internet users are selling something online using mobile devices, and 26 percent of Internet users are active on shopping apps, with 70 percent of those app users buying a product online.

Millennials — those born since 1980 — are easily the most active group with shopping apps. Among those ages 16–24, 29 percent said they used a shopping app in the past month, while those ages 25–34 were even more app-happy at 30 percent. Those ages 35–44 were at 27 percent, with 45–54-year-olds at 17 percent and those between 55–64 at 9 percent.

While the GWI study confirms the obvious — that mobile commerce continues to grow dramatically — it also emphasizes another key data point: Only one-tenth of mCommerce shoppers don’t use other devices for some of their purchases. Or to put it in a less convoluted way, 90 percent of mobile shoppers are multi-device shoppers, with the most common “other device” being desktop computers.

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