Mobile commerce set to surge

14 August 2012

LONDON: Consumers are set to spend £465bn a year on digital and physical goods through mobile devices by 2017, according to a global report from Juniper Research, the insights provider.

The firm's new study, Mobile Payments for Digital & Physical Goods: Opportunity Analysis 2012-2017, argued this trend would be driven by the surging popularity of devices like smartphones and tablets. 

It added that consumers are increasingly buying "real world" products using such gadgets, with companies like Argos, the UK catalogue retailer, and Dominos, the US pizza chain, already generating 6-7% of sales via mobile channels.

Dr Windsor Holden, author of the report, noted: "We have already moved towards a multi-tasking, multi-media environment which offers brands the opportunity for far greater engagement."

The analysis also highlighted the trend towards "couch commerce", where consumers deploy mobile devices to make online purchases while watching TV.

Holden predicted that this shift could lead to mobile appliances accounting for 30% of ecommerce transactions by 2017, although this would remain a fraction of total worldwide retail sales of £10.2tr.

Marketers are helping promote this trend by building apps serving as an interface between physical and mobile shopping. Online auction site eBay, for example, offers a Fashion App letting consumers upload a photo of an item to search for it online.

In the future, eBay plans to allow visitors to compare prices and availability on the web and in bricks-and-mortar stores, and to pay with a mobile device before picking up the product from a local retailer. 

"Mobile is increasingly being deployed at all touchpoints in the retail process – product discovery, product purchase [and] customer retention," Holden said.

Consumer security concerns remain, however, despite the growth in sales. For example, 35% of respondents to an eDigitalResearch report released in May 2012 said they would not use their mobile device to make contactless payments because of security fears.

Data sourced from Juniper Research; additional content by Warc staff