Mobile commerce is growing by leaps and bounds-depending on how one defines "mobile." EMarketer expects m-commerce sales to grow to $86.9 billion in 2016 from $24.7 billion in 2012. The biggest driver is the tablet. Devices like the Ipad are expected to account for 14.3% of retail e-commerce sales, or $61 billion, by 2015, up from 6.2% in 2012. Smartphone commerce also will rise considerably, to $24.3 billion in 2016 from $9.8 billion in 2012. All forecasts exclude travel and event ticket sales.
There's just one problem: Consumers are less mobile than these numbers and the term "m-commerce" suggest. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg declared in November 2010 that the iPad "is not mobile." It turns out he was right. Tablets are just small, simple computers people tend to use at home rather than truly mobile devices they use on the go. According to a Sterling Brands/Ipsos study, 79% of tablet usage takes place in the home. Similarly, a comScore survey found that 90% of tablet owners used them at home while fewer than 40% used them in public locations. Just think of a tablet as a laptop that runs apps.
Tablets aren't the same as smartphones. They have a different user experience: A tablet's large screen allows for more information and graphics and a generally more pleasurable experience. A truly mobile device is much smaller and must be designed specifically for out-of-home use. If a consumer goes shopping online, their location will dictate which device is used to make the purchase: tablet or computer at home, smartphone on the go.