The number of annual purchases made with mobile devices, tablets, desktops and other connected devices should reach 125 billion annually by 2018, up more than 60 percent on this year’s total, according to a report from Juniper Research.
Growth will come in large part from China, the report projected, with that nation surpassing the United States as the leader in mobile and online transactions.
The dramatic surge in Chinese e-retail businesses includes Alibaba, which attracted more than 330 million buyers during 2014.
The report observed that with nearly $450 billion in e-retail sales during 2014, China had comfortably surpassed the U.S.—which boasted $296 billion in e-retail sales last year, to become the largest single market. Japan, the United Kingdom and France round out the top five.
Medium term growth is expected to be driven by a variety of factors, including a rise in commuter commerce like on-the-go purchases, which would itself be fueled by greater deployments of WiFi and 4G connectivity on public transport.
The report also projected that digital transaction volumes would be further bolstered with the continued transition from physical formats, such as DVDs and CD-ROMs, to digital, and the rise in streamed subscription services.
In addition to the financial and transactional projections, the whitepaper-- Mobile & Online Purchases: Cards, Carrier Billing & Third Party Payment Platforms 2015-2020-- cautioned that several high profile data breaches at retailers had resulted in significant consumer unease.
It also found retailers need to deliver a consistency of message, branding and shopping experience across all channels and should also ensure that they scale up the resources on offer at peak periods to cope with the likelihood of additional pressures on online customer support.
The Juniper study follows a survey released earlier this month that indicated shoppers are using a wider variety of payment options with digital and mobile payments serving as supplements to the traditional cash and card-based payments tools.
The survey of more than 1,000 American consumers, which was released by Blackhawk Network, revealed more than two-thirds (68 percent) of mobile payment users report that they are using the alternative payment methods more than last year, with cash and checks seeing the greatest declines in use overall.
The vast majority (87 percent) of consumers surveyed think merchant-specific gift cards are convenient to use, even higher than bank-connected debit cards (82 percent).
Mobile wallets are now used by 25 percent of smartphone owners, with 64 percent of users carrying debit cards in their mobile wallets, while 58 percent have credit cards and 45 percent have gift cards.