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August 24, 2015

Mobile, Online Transactions Swell in Changing Market

Shopping used to involve actually going to a physical location to buy goods and bring said items home. The growth of online shopping—and its close cousin mobile shopping—has fundamentally changed the nature of that game, and in a big way. New reports from Juniper Research say that the number of purchases made on mobile devices, PCs, and other connected devices should clear 125 billion annually by just 2018, and that wasn't where Juniper's revelations ended.

That number actually represents an increase of 60 percent from just this year alone, and will be driven by a combination of factors, ranging from better accessibility to Wi-Fi and 4G signals on public transports to an increasingly large number of digital-only goods on hand. The so-called “commuter commerce,” in which purchases will be made from mobile devices while traveling, is set to be a big contributor to these numbers, but so too will be most everything from Netflix subscriptions to a host of other streamed services.

The Juniper report didn't stop there, though, as a huge surge in Chinese online retailing was set to drive those numbers in a big way as well. During just 2014, Alibaba alone pulled in over 330 million buyers, and during 2014, China had actually surpassed the United States in terms of online retail, pulling in almost $450 billion against the United States' $296 billion. Rounding out the top five in the market were Japan, the United Kingdom and France.

All this growth wouldn't come without challenges, as the report noted that “ . . . data breaches can lead to significant customer churn,” following that up with the recommendation that customers “ . . . be reassured that their vital information is not being compromised or shared.”  Retailers were also recommended to not only bring out a “consistency of message” across all the different channels that might be used, but also to augment resources used during peak periods, like the holiday shopping season or when promotions are on hand, to make sure the customer experience is the best it can be.

While China's rise to the top of the online retail market may come as a bit of a shock, it really shouldn't, particularly given that China's population is around four times that of the United States'. What is more of a surprise, though, is that India, which has  similarly high population, isn't in the top five here. But aside from this, everything else represents a note of sense. It was almost three years ago when eBay showed off its promotion with bliss spa, and taught us all that we can do our Black Friday deal-hunting from a mobile device while engaged in the finest of spa treatments. It wasn't out of line for people to carry on with this kind of shopping, especially given that security had greatly improved since its start.

That combination of comfort, flexibility and accomplishment stuck with a lot of people, and today, it's a safe bet that plenty turn to Amazon when it comes time for Christmas shopping. This level of popularity doesn't come without risks and obstacles, though, and being prepared to surmount these obstacles leaves a great possibility for success to follow.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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