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What Role Will Mobile Play This Holiday Season?

Smartphone and tablet owners plan holiday purchases on mobile devices

For the past few years, retailers have been fine-tuning their mobile offerings in advance of the holiday season. Keeping up with consumer demand has meant providing pricing information, product specifications and customer reviews to mobile users—all leading reasons why last year’s holiday shoppers turned to mobile, according to a survey conducted by ForeSee Results at the end of 2010. Only 17% intended to make a purchase.

However, things have changed since last year. Due to increasing numbers of smartphone users—eMarketer forecasts a 50% increase in penetration for 2011—this could be the year that mobile makes a dent in holiday sales. According to a PayPal survey of smartphone and tablet owners, holiday m-commerce could nearly crack the half-way mark this season. The growing popularity of tablets, which can approximate browsing a catalog, appears to be an influence. Sixty percent speculated that they would be shopping from home, not on the go, a phenomenon PayPal has dubbed “couch commerce.”

Whether from the comfort of home or in a store, tablet users plan on getting a jump on holiday shopping. The largest group in a Google AdMob survey from August (45%) planned to start shopping before Thanksgiving with only 17% doing so on Black Friday. In comparison, smartphone owners were more evenly split between those two periods, at 34% and 35%.

In a Mojiva survey, the list of mobile’s merits as a shopping aid is very similar to those cited in last year’s ForeSee Results report. The big difference is that buying has risen to nearly one-third of mobile phone users.

These shoppers were also willing to spend a fair amount of money per m-commerce transaction; 40% would be comfortable spending more than $50. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed by PayPal had already spent more than $100 on their last mobile purchase.

Currently, mobile shoppers tend to be more affluent, and the user base is broadening. This growing audience is not one that retailers can afford to ignore—and most are not; a BDO USA survey of retail CFOs discovered that 54% planned to invest more in mobile commerce next year and that 49% expected more than 10% growth from this channel in 2011, up 5 percentage points from last year.

Keep your business ahead of the digital curve. Learn more about becoming an eMarketer Total Access client today.

Check out today’s other article, “Company Websites Top of B2B Leads.”

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