M-commerce is the share of online purchases that are made via mobile devices, which include tablets, smartphones and other portable technology like smartwatches. M-commerce is increasing at a rapid pace and is expected to account for a majority of online sales by 2021, reflecting both consumers’ changing habits and retailers’ increased investment in mobile platforms.
M-commerce to account for majority of e-commerce sales by 2021
Figure 1: M-Commerce Total Sales and Share of E-Commerce
Source: U.S. Census, eMarketer, 2018.
M-commerce sales grew 276% from 2013 to 2017 and are expected to rise another 170% by 2021. This rapid growth will bring m-commerce sales above those of computer sales and account for nearly 54% of online retail sales by 2021.
Figure 2: M-commerce Sales by Device
Source: eMarketer, 2018.
Growth in m-commerce sales is largely a result of a rapid rise in spending via smartphones. As shown in Figure 2, purchases made via smartphones accounted for 66% of m-commerce sales in 2017 and are expected to rise to 82% by 2021. Though sales on tablets and other mobile devices are also expected to increase, the clear trend is toward the use of smartphones for mobile purchases.
Consumers and m-commerce
Figure 3: % of U.S. Adults Who Own Cellphones and Smartphones
Source: Pew Research Center, 2018.
The rise in mobile sales is no surprise, given the continued increase in smartphone use across the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of U.S. adults own cellphones and 77% own smartphones. Increased access to both mobile devices and Wi-Fi are facilitating the shift to mobile shopping and fundamentally changing consumer shopping habits.
Retailers and m-commerce
Alongside changes in technology and consumer shopping habits, retailers’ investments in mobile channels are contributing significantly to m-commerce growth. From marketing and social media to apps and mobile-friendly websites, retailers across categories are implementing strategies to reach consumers via their phones. Though these investments are clearly driven by consumer demand, there is another incentive to pushing mobile: data. By engaging in loyalty programs, social media or retailer apps, consumers are sharing a wealth of information about their profiles and shopping habits. This, in turn, enables retailers to better understand their consumers and tailor products and offers to individual shoppers.
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