SYDNEY: Mcommerce sales are likely to surpass A$5bn in Australia this year, buoyed by the rapid uptake of smartphones and tablets in the country, a report has predicted.

According to eBay, the online retail platform, and PayPal, the electronic transactions service, spending through the mobile channel should stand at A$5.6bn in 2012, compared with just $155m in 2010.

Based on a poll of 3,200 people conducted with Nielsen, the insights group, the study forecast that 64% of Australians would own a smartphone by the end of 2012, compared to 51% in 2011.

These totals hit 39% and 18% respectively for tablets. Laptop penetration is also predicted to reach 83%, with desktops on 79%, reflecting the huge possibilities presented by the digital ecosystem.

"This future is therefore overwhelmingly mobile, and it's increasingly multichannel, on any connected screen," said Deborah Sharkey, a vice president of eBay Australia. "Consumers are already moving easily across devices, through any shopping environment."

To date, a 92% majority of internet users have discovered products on a PC, a rating coming in at 47% for mobile and 25% for tablets.

Among the individuals learning about products on a mobile phone, search engines were the primary means of doing so for 62%, ahead of eBay itself on 45% and typing in a set web address on 37%.

A 75% share of consumers had researched at least one item online before buying in-store. A further 71% researched and purchased on on the web via the same device, and 21% switched to a different digital channel to finalise a transaction.

More broadly, fully 91% of the panel has acquired goods and services through a personal computer to date, a figure reaching 25% for mobile and 16% for appliances like the iPad and Kindle Fire.

The top commercial uses for PCs was comparing prices on 77%, searching for retailers' brick and mortar branches on 76% and reading online reviews with 72%.

When looking at mobile, tracking down the address of stores took the lead on 20%, followed by checking product availability on 21% and looking at customer feedback on 20%.

Some 15% of the sample also browsed such reviews on tablets. Finding stores was also on 14% here, indicating a commonality of activity across devices.

Data sourced from eBay; additional content by Warc staff