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M-Commerce Outlook 
 Mobile sales expected to hit $31 billion by 2016


Along with social media, all eyes will be on the mobile channel this upcoming holiday season. More and more retailers are joining the rush to launch “apps” that can be accessed by smartphone or tablet users. Others are putting QR codes on their products that can be scanned for information. At the same time, increasing numbers of consumers are using their personal mobile devices to do everything from research store information and compare prices to receive coupons and purchase products. 

In terms of sales transaction volume, however, the mobile channel still has a way to go. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, retailers can expect 2% of their online sales (as opposed to total sales) to be transacted through mobile devices in 2011 (“Mobile Commerce Forecast: 2011 to 2016”). Forrester expects mobile commerce sales to grow 40% annually for the next five years, reaching $31 billion by 2016, or 7% of Web sales penetration.

But while mobile commerce still represents a small base of overall transaction volume, the channel represents a huge opportunity for retailers to generate millions in incremental revenue. As the Forrester study notes, mobile commerce sales are likely to gain even more momentum as consumers become more comfortable with the security of the channel, retailers improve their sites, and mobile Web speed improves.

Retailers can capitalize on increased interest in mobile commerce this holiday by incorporating a mobile site into their multichannel holiday strategies — and they should take care that the branding and other elements are synchronized across channels to provide the smooth shopping experience that consumers increasingly expect. Also critical: Making sure the mobile store is customer-friendly, has an efficient on-site search engine and offers easy checkout capabilities. 

“We expect m-commerce to really take over in the next year or two,” reported Janet Hoffman, global managing director of the retail practice Accenture, San Francisco. “There is plenty of opportunity in the m-commerce race. It will be fun to watch the activity and see which companies get it right first.”

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