In five years, will tablets and smartphones surpass PCs in e-commerce sales?

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off

What does the future hold for m-commerce. We asked and you answered.

We polled our readers and the best answers were printed in the April issue of Direct Marketing News. Check to see what our readers had to say and see below for our expert analysis.

YES

Michael Miller, CMO at Hyper Marketing, 17 years of marketing experience

The shift from PCs to mobile devices is one of the most obvious lessons in path-to-purchase. A 2011 IconoCommunities study found more than 50% of people said they used a smartphone or website to help inform a purchase decision. Just five years ago this number would have been drastically lower.

Our behavior has changed. Now we learn through our network of identified friends and third-party reviews. We research products from professional sites, and when it comes to the final moment of truth we take pictures of ourselves with the product and share them. This is just the beginning of a sea change in which we'll see commerce shift from not just physical to digital, but from computers to mobile and tablets.

A 2011 report from eMarketer found that U.S. mobile commerce sales, including travel, surged 91.4% to reach $6.7 billion and are expected to hit $31 billion this year.

While this number is still relatively small when compared to the total e-commerce sales figures, consumers today are reshaping the whole commerce ecosystem by demanding a seamless experience from online to offline — and brands are expected to deliver. As e-commerce continues its upward trajectory toward a completely unified path-to-purchase, it will need to be delivered effortlessly between home, work and the retail store. The one asset that stays consistent with consumers is their growing reliance on tablets and mobile devices.

Ultimately we have the perfect storm of distribution, experience and mindset.

As mobile devices become cheaper and easier to get, brands need to be aware of the level of mobile enablement. While only about 50% of U.S. retailers are mobile commerce enabled, this is significantly trending upwards. As we saw during the 2011 holiday season with retailers like Gap, Zappos and Wal-Mart, an app-enabled shopping experience is the new norm.

With the experience level of computing focused on touch, sound and movement, today's operating systems are built with pure consumer centricity. Just recently, my daughter walked up to our TV and literally tried to change the channel by swiping her little hand across the screen. As devices continue to provide easier and more engaging experiences, consumers will come to rely on them for their everyday needs — including commerce.

Mobile activities are increasingly focused on downloading coupons, comparison shopping and communicating through social channels. Brands are now up against consumers who are well-versed in researching products before stepping into a store.

Millions of consumers are using their devices to enable and enhance their shopping journeys. It's just a matter of time before the computer is left behind and the entire shopping experience is led by mobile and tablets.

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