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Mobile commerce set to double by 2013 – but for now its just part of the shopping experience, finds Verdict/Ovum study

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Internet shopping sales from mobile phones will more than double by 2013 as UK consumers get used to paying for goods on their handsets, according to Ovum and Verdict Research. However, for now, the true role of mobile is to drive growth by enhancing the overall shopping experience.

Verdict’s consumer research shows that while 28% of the UK adult population had internet access on their mobile in 2009, just 2.1% used this access to shop online. However, with internet-savvy consumers now accustomed to the multichannel environment, they are beginning to embrace m-commerce.

Verdict estimates that in 2009, internet shopping sales via mobiles was worth just £122.9m, 0.6% of total £21.2bn online retail spending. At present, rather than shop, it is clear that consumers are using their mobiles to enhance the shopping experience by comparing prices, researching products and interacting with retailers. Indeed, the findings of Verdict’s consumer research reveal that 11.5% of all UK shoppers are using their mobiles to research before shopping, while 3.8% use them to research, engage and interact with retailers while out shopping.

Malcolm Pinkerton, senior analyst at Verdict Research, said: “Consumers are not spending significant amounts via mobiles and, for now, we believe the true potential for m-commerce is to provide consumers with a valuable tool for research, comparison shopping and retailer interaction.”

Christine Bardwell, senior retail technology analyst at Ovum, added: “The opportunities are there for the most proficient multichannel retailers to claim a share of the growing cross-channel expenditure by exploiting the possibilities provided by mobiles to seamlessly link the online and instore environments.”

By 2013, internet sales via mobiles will have doubled to £275 million, driven by a 119% rise in the m-commerce population, improvements in mobile technology, better interoperability and greater take-up of smartphones and Android devices.

Verdict and Ovum believe that though m-commerce will still not have become a significant channel by 2013, its effectiveness as a marketing tool and way of interacting with customers will have increased substantially, providing a massive boost to sales growth across all channels.

“As consumer affiliation with m-commerce increases, retailers will need to decide if they’re going to be pioneers in the market and meet consumer expectations, or wait and risk being behind the curve as many were with e-commerce”, added Bardwell.

Pinkerton concluded: “If correctly implemented, m-commerce will not only ensure the needs of tomorrow’s shoppers are met today, but also that growth is maximized across all channels.”

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