May 13, 2014, 11:13 AM

U.S. m-commerce will make up 29% of web sales this year

A Forrester report anticipates more retail investment in mobile commerce and more smartphone and tablet users in 2014.

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Purchases via smartphones and tablets will account for 29% of U.S. consumers’ online purchases in 2014, up from 21% last year, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc. The estimates do not include travel and food sales.

Mobile sales, not counting travel and food purchases, will hit approximately $86 billion this year, up 53.5% from $56 billion in 2013. Videos, music, books, clothes and consumer electronics will account for the majority of the 2014 sales, Forrester says.

Including travel and food, mobile sales will reach $114 billion this year, up 58.3% from about $72 billion last year. Total sales from mobile phones and tablets in the United States will reach $293 billion in 2018,  a compound annual growth rate of about 26.6%, according to Forrester.

“As consumers get more accustomed to purchasing on mobile phones and tablets and as retailers develop solutions to make mobile phone and tablet buying even easier, the total numbers of mobile phone and tablet buyers will increase,” says the report, written by Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. Forrester expects U.S. consumers to hold 244 million smartphone subscriptions by 2017, at which point the country will have 150 million tablet users. That compares with 62 million smartphone subscriptions and 8 million tablet users in 2010.

Forrester says that while 38% of smartphone owners and 31% of tablet owners in 2014 will use their devices for purchases, that will increase to 55% and 61%, respectively, by 2018.

The trends have caught the attention of retailers.

53% of retail survey respondents to a Shop.org and Forrester poll earlier this year cited mobile as the top priority for 2014. “Mobile phone and tablet strategies have slowly crept up the priority list for retailers and are now the single biggest area of focus,” the survey says.

Of the 500 leading online retailers in North America, 361 offer e-commerce sites optimized for mobile devices and 290 mobile apps, according to the 2014 Top 500 Guide.

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