Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach $1.7 trillion this year, up by more than 17 percent from last year’s total, according to a report from Juniper Research.
The report indicated social media companies are boosting the numbers by acting as direct sales platforms, though growth has also been buoyed by factors such as public WiFi deployments and the rollout of 4G networks.
"Both Facebook and Twitter have launched ‘buy’ buttons in selected markets, which allow users to make purchases directly from the company's mobile app in a seamless couple-of-clicks transaction," research author Windsor Holden told eWEEK. "Twitter has also partnered with Amazon, allowing consumers to link their accounts. If a link to a product page then appears on a user’s Twitter timeline, a reply using the hashtag AmazonBasket or AmazonCart adds the item to the Amazon basket."
The research also argued that online retailers were increasingly seeking to reduce time-to-consumer by launching same-day delivery, while “bricks-and mortar” stores now widely offer next-day, in-store pickup—often charging a premium for this option.
"The greater the availability of broadband connectivity, the greater the opportunity for retail engagement and product purchase," Holden explained. "There is already a well-established trend of couch commerce, as e-retail moves from the desktop to a tablet or mobile device in the home. We’re now seeing increased commuter commerce activity, as transport network WiFi enables greater connectivity while consumers are on the bus, train or underground network."
In addition, the report found smartphones would account for more than 40 percent of e-commerce transactions by 2020.
However, the study also cautioned that while carrier billing could provide content providers with a key mechanism for monetizing digital content, its use for physical goods purchase is likely to be limited by the comparatively higher share of revenues demanded by network operators and billing platforms.
"The key will be to ensure that customers can engage—and pay—through any channel or mechanism they wish, and that the retailer is cognizant of an individual’s preferences to tailor its responses accordingly," Holden said. "It will be up to retailers to ensure that those consumers are offered a consistent omnichannel experience that allows consumers a choice of engagement channels. The challenge will be to avoid bombarding the consumer with offers or product information. That’s why, for example, in-store use of beacon technology should not cause overkill in this regard."