March 10, 2014, 2:32 PM

Mobile commerce will be nearly half of e-commerce by 2018

Tablets will play an increasingly important role as worldwide consumer spending via mobile jumps from $204 billion in 2014 to $626 billion in 2018, according to Goldman Sachs. 535 million consumers across the globe will make a purchase via mobile this year, the firm says.

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To get an idea of just how big mobile commerce will become, first look at total e-commerce sales last year: $638 billion, according to The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a multinational investment banking firm. That’s all retail web sales, on desktops, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, game consoles, you name it. Then, look at Goldman Sachs’ estimate for m-commerce sales for 2018: $626 billion. So web sales only on smartphones and tablets in 2018 will nearly equal web sales on every imaginable computing machine from just five years earlier.

Goldman Sachs predicts retail mobile commerce sales (excluding travel and excluding digital goods such as music and apps) will reach $204 billion in 2014, jump 45.9% to $298 billion in 2015, increase 39.1% to $415 billion in 2016, rise 24.4% to $516 billion in 2017, and jump 21.3% to $626 billion in 2018. Mobile commerce will represent 27.2% of e-commerce sales in 2014, 33.9% in 2015, 40.5% in 2016, 43.8% in 2017, and 46.6% in 2018, Goldman Sachs forecasts. (Some percentages are slightly off due to rounding.)

Following are the year, projected m-commerce sales on smartphones (in billions), smartphone percent of mobile sales, m-commerce sales on tablets (in billions), and tablet percent of mobile sales, according to Goldman Sachs:

  • 2014, $70, 34.3%, $134, 65.7%.
  • 2015, $95, 31.9%, $203, 68.1%.
  • 2016, $123, 29.6%, $292, 70.4%.
  • 2017, $147, 28.5%, $369, 71.5%.
  • 2018, $173, 27.6%, $453, 72.4%.

The number of smartphone and/or tablet users making purchases on their mobile devices will increase significantly in the years ahead, Goldman Sachs predicts. 535 million consumers around the globe will make a purchase on their mobile devices this year; that figure will grow 28% to 686 in 2015, increase 21% to 830 million in 2016, jump 16% to 961 million in 2017, and rise 13% to 1.09 billion in 2018, the investment bank says.

Based on m-commerce predictions from Goldman Sachs and population projections from the United Nations, in 2018, 14.4% of the 7.56 billion people on Earth will make at least one purchase on a mobile device.

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