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Listen In: Five Mobile Commerce Predictions for 2017

Analysts Krista Garcia and Yory Wurmser discuss trends to watch in the year ahead

November 2, 2016

It’s that time of the year when the analysts at eMarketer reflect on recent developments and make some educated estimates about what might (and might not) occur in the year ahead. In the latest episode of “Behind The Numbers,” hosts Marcus Johnson and Bryan Yeager invite eMarketer’s two retail and ecommerce analysts to share their mobile commerce predictions for 2017.

Before jumping into the outlook, Johnson and Yeager provide some highlights from eMarketer’s Attention! event in New York City, which featured presentations from eMarketer chief innovation officer Geoff Ramsey, several eMarketer analysts, Wharton professor and author Jonah Berger, and Starbucks senior vice president of public affairs Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Excerpts from the event will be featured in a future podcast.

Then, eMarketer analysts Krista Garcia and Yory Wurmser join to discuss their predictions for how smartphones, tablets and other connected devices will play a role in digital commerce in 2017, including:

Smartphones will become the dominant device for mobile commerce: In 2017, eMarketer projects, the share of US mcommerce sales that come from smartphones will grow to 65%—up from 58% this year. Bigger screen sizes, mobile-optimized experiences and faster connectivity are among the many reasons why smartphones are gaining share over tablets.

US Retail Mcommerce Sales Share, by Device, 2015-2020 (% of total and billions)

Buy buttons won’t gain traction in a meaningful way: Social networks have struggled to parlay their advantages as discovery platforms into commerce platforms. Pinterest is the exception, though, as Garcia points out, its audience is a fraction of the size of Facebook’s. There are uses cases like digital downloads and items with little to no configuration where buy buttons make sense, but we think they’ll remain a niche offering in 2017.

Conversational commerce will make important strides: Using messaging apps, chatbots and virtual personal assistants for buying things is still pretty clunky, but as Wurmser points out, most options are still at version 1.0. These systems will get smarter from both machine learning and user feedback, and consumers will also become more comfortable interacting with conversational interfaces in 2017 and beyond.

Less checkout friction will help convert more mobile shoppers into buyers: Mobile wallets becoming standard features of new smartphones, and capabilities like PayPal’s OneTouch persistent login are helping reduce the steps it takes to turn a shopper to a buyer on a smartphone or tablet. Emerging features like mobile order-ahead also help reduce friction and add value to consumers’ commerce experiences, in turn helping improve conversion.

Facebook and Google will make mobile commerce more local: Both companies have efforts to enable better online-to-offline retail sales attribution, as well as populate digital ads from national retailers with inventory from local stores. Facebook also made access to Marketplace, its new craigslist competitor, a prominent feature of its widely used mobile app. It and Google will play influential roles in making mobile commerce more local in 2017.

eMarketer PRO subscribers can read more about the latest mobile commerce trends in Wurmser’s May 2016 report, “US Mobile Commerce Update 2016: Behind the Rapid Growth,” and Garcia’s June 2016 report, “Digital Shopper Marketing Trends in the US: Getting Personal in the Aisles.”

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