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Retailers will have to embrace mobile, tablet and social shopping in 2012, predicts Rakuten

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The way we shop will change dramatically over the year ahead, according to ecommerce company Rakuten, owner of leading UK website

In its predictions for 2012, the company, which also runs the Rakuten Japanese marketplace website, predicts this is the year that having a strategy to serve those customers who want to shop both by mobile (M-commerce) and via their tablet computer (T-commerce) will become a must for retailers.

It cites research by JP Morgan that suggests global ecommerce revenues will hit $963bn (£621.98bn) next year and figures from Gartner that predict smart mobile web devices will overtake the total PCs in use as they rise to more than 1.8bn. “With 1.8 billion consumers just a click away this is too big an opportunity for retailers to miss,” said Rakuten’s report.

Also big in 2012 will be the power of the social network in commenting on planned purchases, the rise of global e-marketplaces and the need for flexible and local shipping models such as Click & Collect.

Adam Stewart, marketing director at Rakuten’s said: “In 2011 we barely scraped the surface of what’s possible with online retail. We are on the cusp of creating an experience-rich, 24/7 international shopping community. In the year ahead, cutting edge mobile devices, worldwide mobile and broadband penetration and innovative social shopping services will open up global markets, providing huge growth opportunities for merchants large and small and unparalleled consumer choice.”

Other trends highlighted by Rakuten include a move by retailers towards personalizing their marketing messages to consumers, and the emergence of a new eco-system that will find new ways of bringing online and offline sales together, with methods of rewarding the high street shops whose displayed have referred sales to online stores. Such a system, says Rakuten, is necessary in order to “avoid cannibalizing the high street.”

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