With digital storefronts just an arm’s length away, millions are reaching first for their smartphone when the urge to shop strikes. Whether at home or on the go, these consumers use their phones to browse and research products, hunt for deals and make purchases.
US consumers will spend $37.44 billion in 2013 on retail purchases made via smartphones and tablets, up from $23.72 billion last year, according to a new eMarketer report, “Retail Mobile Commerce Forecast: Shoppers Turn to Smartphones First.” But increased sales don’t tell the whole story. Even when shoppers do not buy on mobile and instead turn to the computer or a store to make a final purchase, the devices still play a critical role in the purchase funnel.
eMarketer’s mobile shopper forecast reflects a cultural shift toward a mobile-centric lifestyle in the US, one in which all things digital are increasingly accessed through mobile devices.
eMarketer forecasts the number of mobile shoppers in the US will increase by 24% in 2013 to 118 million consumers and represent 62% of digital shoppers. Over the next four years, the overlap between mobile and digital shoppers will steadily increase as the number of mobile shoppers grows to 174 million in 2016. At that point, roughly eight out of 10 digital shoppers will also be mobile shoppers.
As the number of mobile shoppers rises, so does the number of buyers.
Retail trends and the latest research leads eMarketer to believe that 72 million people in the US will make a purchase through a mobile device in 2013, a figure that will increase nearly 65%, to 119 million, in 2016. The growth of the mobile buyer community will be fueled in greatest measure by the expanding number of tablet users who are more prone to buying. Still, the number of consumers making purchases on a smartphone is expected to increase by double-digit levels for the next three years and contribute significantly to the overall expansion of the mobile buyer population.
“Just four years ago mobile commerce barely existed. Today, mobile touches nearly one in every three purchases on eBay,” said Steve Yankovich, vice president of mobile for eBay, in a company blog post on December 11, 2012.