July 12, 2012, 4:55 PM

6.8% of all European web sales will stem from mobile phones in 2017

M-commerce sales will exceed $23 billion in 2017, Forrester says.

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Mobile commerce through mobile phones, excluding tablets, will represent 6.8% of all online sales across Europe by 2017, reaching 19.25 billion euro, or $23.49 billion, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc. Simple-to-merchandise, impulse categories like books, music and DVDs, and categories such as ticketing and auctions where immediacy and location are important, will be the core mobile commerce growth categories, Forrester predicts.

Following are Forrester’s predictions for European Union mobile commerce retail, travel and ticket sales (in billions) for 2012 through 2017; U.S. dollar figures are based on the exchange rate on July 12, 2012:

  • 2012, 2.74 euro, $3.34
  • 2013, 4.62 euro, $5.64
  • 2014, 7.42 euro, $9.05
  • 2015, 10.76 euro, $13.13
  • 2016, 14.66 euro, $17.89
  • 2017, 19.25 euro, $23.49

Forrester Research defines mobile commerce as “the purchase of physical goods or services (excluding digital content) via a mobile phone without speaking to anyone. This excludes purchases made at a retail point of sale or a vending machine using a phone to initiate a payment. This excludes purchases made on a tablet device.”

Smartphone users are far more likely than other mobile device users to engage in mobile shopping via their phones, whether that is buying a product, locating a store or looking up a price while on the move, says the report, “EU Mobile Commerce Forecast: 2012 to 2017.” The impact that mobile will have on the overall shopping experience will be much more significant as consumers increasingly turn to their phones to inform both online and offline purchases, Forrester says.

“Mobile buyers will mature from the early adopter profile today to become an increasingly mainstream audience—although this change will take time,” writes report author and Forrester analyst Martin Gill. “Over the next five years European shoppers will use their mobile phones to make an increasing amount of ‘traditional’ online purchases as they become more familiar and comfortable with the m-commerce paradigm. These sales will move beyond purely digital categories such as ringtones and apps. While mobile sales will undoubtedly cannibalize some existing revenues, there will be some incremental uplift as mobile shopping encourages consumers to make impulse purchases, particularly for cheaper, low-consideration items that they would not otherwise have made.”

The average annual spend of each European mobile buyer will rise from 201 euro in 2011 to 227 euro in 2017, the report predicts. It is the volume of buyers, not each shopper’s individual spend, that will drive growth as shoppers focus their mobile buying primarily on lower-cost items, Forrester says. As methods for mobile shopping improve, mobile purchasing will reach mainstream levels of adoption in 2017: The mobile buying population in Europe will rise from 7.6 million in 2011 to more than 79 million in 2017, with just over 45% of all mobile users buying via their phones, the report says.

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