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Analysts forecast M-commerce boom

23 June 2010 - 14:30 by Graham Miller

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Industry analyst Gartner has published new figures which estimate that the number of people using their mobiles as a platform for online shopping will expand significantly as 2010 progresses.

The total number of online sales made from mobile phones will see the M-commerce sector grow by more than 50 per cent, according to Gartner. This will represent a total customer base of 108 million, which is an increase of 38 million over the levels indicated in 2009.

The widespread nature of mobile ownership contextualises these figures in a somewhat starker light, as it is estimated that total M-commerce sales will only account for about two per cent of the total mobile user market.

Interestingly, Gartner believes that users in Western Europe are taking to M-commerce with more hesitance than in other areas, as faster growth is being measured in Asia, Africa and other developing regions before the wealthier nations.

Gartner's Sandy Shen said that the key reason for this discrepancy in the west is that consumers are provided with plenty of other options for safe shopping online that do not bring the mobile phone into play.

Shen admits that retailers have yet to find the perfect formula for pushing M-commerce into the mainstream in markets where alternative means of payment have been established. Meanwhile developing markets have little existing infrastructure in place to act as competition, driving growth in this increasingly important area of online retail.

Shen believes that the best way in which to make M-commerce a more important feature of shopping online for consumers in the UK is to integrate it into existing services so that it can work in unison with them, rather than as a detached component. This would involve converging the methods of payment so that you could use your mobile, a landline, a computer or a store to purchase the same products using the same method, allowing for uniform access and ease of use for safe shopping online.