It may not amount to a major portion of overall U.S. retail sales. At least not yet.

But mobile commerce – otherwise known as m-commerce – continues to gain momentum as 2014 rolls into its second quarter.

According to a new industry forecast from eMarketer, m-commerce will reach $57.8 billion in U.S.-based sales in 2014. That would represent a 37.2% increase from $42.1 billion in 2013 m-commerce sales – and comprise around one-fifth of all retail e-commerce sales. However, it would also account for just 1.2% of total 2014 retail sales.

The 2014 m-commerce estimate includes products or services ordered over the internet via smartphones and other mobile devices, but it excludes travel and event ticket sales. This year, tablets will facilitate nearly two-thirds of all m-commerce sales, with that percentage rising to close to 75% by 2018. These figures corroborate previous research from multiple sources that tabbed tablets as the preferred mobile device for online purchases.

The study predicts e-commerce sales will grow 15.5% this year to $304.1 billion, up from $263.3 billion in 2013. Growth in Internet-based sales will represent more than 20% of the total increase in retail sales this year. But it will still make up only 5.8% of total U.S. retail sales of 4.7 trillion in 2014. That share will rise to almost 9% in 2018.

The eMarketer forecast also calls for overall e-commerce sales to grow 15.5% this year to an impressive $304.1 billion – up from $263.3 billion in 2013. All told, growth in internet-based sales will represent more than 20% of the total increase in retail sales in 2014.

However, e-commerce will still comprise just 5.8% of total U.S. retail sales (an astounding $4.7 trillion). According to the report, that share will rise to just under 9% in 2018 – when m-commerce sales alone are expected to climb to $132.7 billion.

MediaPost, via its MobileShopTalk blog, recently shared some examples of brands capitalizing on the increasing impetus among consumers to at least experiment with m-commerce.

Chief among them was the increasingly-popular (and reportedly quite healthy) fast casual restaurant chain Panera Bread Company. Panera Bread is making news not only for its healthy dining options, but also for the launch of its innovative and ambitious “Panera 2.0” initiative in 14 of its 1,500-plus restaurants.

As part of Panera 2.0, Panera Bread is rolling out new mobile features that allow consumers to order remotely and pick up their food at a pre-determined time – thus avoiding any waiting in line. Another innovative m-commerce feature allows dine-in customers to place their order once inside the restaurant. From there, the food will be delivered directly to their table by an in-store associate using an electronic table locator.

St. Louis-based Panera Bread even has an EVP of Technology & Transformation – a position we imagine is not created or staffed by too many fast casual restaurant chains. And that EVP of Technology & Transformation, Blaine Hurst, had the following to say about Panera 2.0 in a recent interview with

“Panera 2.0 is an integrated experience that meets the differentiated needs of ‘to go’ and ‘eat in’ customers, so they don’t bump into each other,” said Hurst.  “Panera 2.0 provides new mechanisms for ordering, payment, food production, and, ultimately, consumption. We took a totally integrated approach, and believe what we are providing is a truly enhanced guest experience.”

What do YOU think about m-commerce? Have you ever utilized any m-commerce services? If you’re a digital advertising or marketing agency, have you created any m-commerce platforms or campaigns on behalf of clients? If so, how have they worked out?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on m-commerce and its role in America both today…and moving forward. Let us know what you think in the comments section below this blog post.

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