Half of Digital Shoppers Will Use Phones to Buy in 2017

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Bigger smartphones make for bigger sales, rising at a $20 billion clip over the next three years.

Next year the phone will replace the tablet as the prime generator of mobile commerce. Digital market researcher eMarketer predicts that more than half of people who shop online will make smartphone transactions in 2017 and account for more than half of mobile sales. The tablet's share will slip to about 49% next year.

In 2015 purchases made via phone doubled to $39 billion, thanks to bigger units from the likes of Samsung and Apple. “As mobile sites become better optimized and screen sizes grow, it's becoming easier for shoppers to complete the purchase on the smartphone, which will drive m-commerce numbers up for the next several years,” said eMarketer retail analyst Yory Wurmser in a report issued today.

Smartphone transactions will grow by $20 billion a year through 2018, according to eMarketer, hitting $59 billion this year, $76 billion next year, and $92 billion the year after. M-commerce will represent 32% of all e-commerce sales in 2016, though just 2.6% of total retail sales.

All those brick-and-mortar transactions will undoubtedly be influenced by what pops up on phones, however. Some 166 million Americans 14 and over will use smartphones to research products, but not necessarily complete the purchase on their devices. That figure comprises three-quarters of the digital shopper population in the U.S.

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