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Web sales through mobile apps and social presence to grow exponentially: Gartner

By 2015, companies will generate 50% of Web sales via their social presence and mobile applications, according to Gartner.

Vendors in the e-commerce market will begin to offer new context-aware, mobile-based application capabilities that can be accessed via a browser or installed as an application on a phone, Gartner analysts said.

Gartner analysts discussed the future of e-commerce at Gartner IT Symposium, saying that as the number of mobile phones overtakes PCs, customers will use mobile browsers and applications as the main points of interaction.

“E-commerce organisations will need to scale up their operations to handle the increased visitation loads resulting from customers not having to wait until they are in front of a PC to obtain answers to questions or place orders,” said Gene Alvarez, research VP at Gartner. “In time, e-commerce vendors will begin to offer context-aware mobile-shopping solutions as part of their overall Web sales offerings.”

“Customers are clamoring for new and easy ways to interact with the organisations they deal with, and no company should think itself immune to this new business dynamic,” Alvarez said. “As more people use smartphones, they will expect an extension of their customer experience to be supported by this kind of device while demanding that social aspects of the Web be intertwined with this experience. At the same time, organisations are looking toward new countries and regions for growth. As a result, it is time to take a fresh look at your organisation’s Web sales capabilities to ensure that social software, mobile technology and globalisation are part of your organisation’s online future.”

Industries such as entertainment, software development/publishing and media are being driven by fast-moving changes in their businesses, such as mobility, and the increasing number of mobile devices available to their buyers, analysts pointed out. Others are finding that sales of additional services and products can be added to their customer-service-focused websites. Due to consumerisation, sites in all industries are being impacted by customer experience delivered in the retail space, as customers continue to use their online experiences as the benchmark by which to evaluate all others, they added.

Gartner predicted that by 2013, 80% of North American and European online sellers will expand into Brazil, Russia, India, Africa, Japan or China. Organisations based in North America and Western Europe are already launching website-based sales operations in new countries, in the hope of expanding to new markets. These organisations believe that untapped countries can spur growth by enabling the enticing of potential customers who have never purchased from the organisation, but who have a desire for its products.

“The increasing availability of access to the Internet via PCs, laptops and mobile devices is creating new sales channels in countries, because entry barriers are lowering, thereby increasing the number of online shoppers,” said Alvarez. “By entering these countries via an Internet sales model, organisations can establish a presence in locations without having to create a physical sales location.”

E-commerce managers in Type A (leading) organisations and industries, such as travel, hospitality, retail, consumer electronics, media and entertainment, will begin to take advantage of GPS location services enabled by phones to push personalised, location-based content to mobile devices for users who have subscribed to these services, analysts said. This content will be created via the use of customer patterns and their link to driving sales. These organisations will also have connected (via Web browsers and mobile applications) to many social communities, enabling the organisations to tap into the social networks of customers and leverage the wisdom of the crowd, they concluded.

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