February 23, 2012, 3:11 PM

The Old World takes to mobile commerce

European m-commerce is expected to grow 510% from 2010 through 2012.

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Apparently, Europeans, like U.S. consumers, are taking to the notion of making purchases through their mobile phones. And that bodes well for retailers investing in mobile commerce.

By the end of this year, mobile commerce in a group of 13 Western European countries will have grown 510% since 2010, going from 2.4 billion Euros ($3.2 billion) to 14.6 billion Euros ($19.5 billion) by the end of 2012, predicts a report commissioned by shopping search engine Kelkoo and conducted by the Centre for Retail Research.

The projection includes sales from such products as flowers, digital downloads, furniture, software, sporting goods, tickets and video games, Kelkoo says.

One major reason for this dramatic increase is the number of European mobile subscribers with smartphones. The research found that 38% of mobile subscribers in the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland had smartphones, accounting for 122.8 million devices.

In comparison, 48% of U.S. mobile phone users had smartphones in January, according to research giant Nielsen.

High rates of smartphone adoption are essential to mobile commerce, and this research suggests retailers in the United States and Europe can expect continued m-commerce growth.

The European research also provides some insight into how much consumers spend on mobile commerce. At $302, the United Kingdom had the highest average m-commerce sales per smartphone user in 2011. The least was $36.08 among Italian smartphone users. The average was $156.37 for the year.

On either side of the Atlantic, mobile retailers have a lot to be excited about.

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