TOKYO: Online retail giant Rakuten anticipates an "at least ninefold" increase in its annual sales over the next few years, with growth driven by shifting consumption habits.

A new report from the Japanese-owned firm, which is the world's third-largest e-commerce provider, indicates that the value of the typical user's online purchases rises when they access its services from mobile devices.

Sales increase when customers transition from shopping with their PCs to shopping on feature phones, from feature phones to the mobile web, and from the mobile web to mobile apps. Each of the three transitions results in an increase in transactions of roughly 50%, Rakuten said.

Further to this, the firm also anticipates a "similar level of growth" to be achieved through mass customer adoption of tablet devices.

Kenichiro Nakajima, chief mobile officer at Rakuten, said: "Retailers must build a strong presence across all channels – physical, mobile and social – to deliver a service which allows the customer to shop as they prefer."

The Rakuten analysis advised companies that sell goods online to concentrate on their social media activities in order to increase engagement with shoppers.

"Retailers must have a clear strategy around how social tools can be used not just for brand awareness, but for product development and customer service too," the report added.

Rakuten's analysis follows research conducted by Google and the British Retail Consortium, which showed that retail searches conducted via mobiles rose by 216% year-on-year between the second quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011.

Data sourced from AFAQS; additional content by Warc staff