'M-Commerce' On The Rise As More Consumers Use Mobile Devices To Shop

A new report says that people buying stuff with their mobile devices — known as "m-commerce" — is way up this year over last year.

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2012 was the year of mobile commerce. That's according to some tech analysts. That means consumers weren't just browsing on their smartphones and tablets. As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, they were typing in their credit card numbers and hitting buy.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: They knew it would happen eventually, says Clark Frederick of the research firm eMarketer, and last year, Frederick says consumers made the leap to mobile in record numbers.

CLARK FREDERICK: Mobile commerce went from a negligible portion of retail ecommerce sales a couple years ago to 11 percent in 2012, which is substantial.

SYDELL: Frederick says last year consumers hit the buy button on mobile devices to the tune of $25 billion. Part of the reason there was so much growth is that a lot more people have iPads, Kindles and other tablet computers.

FREDERICK: People like shopping on tablets. Tablets have a high-resolution display, fingertip browsibility, instant power on, and it makes them ideal devices for shopping.

SYDELL: Amazon has been a real leader in the mobile market. Its Kindle was the first tablet computer to excite consumers, though the original only made it easy to buy books. But now, the Kindle makes it easy to buy everything on the Amazon site from books to shoes, and Amazon has apps for iPads, iPhones, Android phones.

SAM HALL: Matter of fact, our goal is for someone to go from wanting something to buying it in under 30 seconds.

SYDELL: That's Sam Hall, who is the vice president of mobile shopping at Amazon. Hall says Amazon saw a big uptick in purchases made on mobile devices this past holiday season. He thinks mobile devices have changed the idea of what it means to go shopping.

HALL: Shopping doesn't need to be a single event where I'm sitting in front of my P.C. or going to a store. I can buy a gift for someone wherever I am. I can be in line at Starbucks. I can be in a boring meeting. I can be sitting on the couch.

SYDELL: Big companies like Amazon enjoy a large advantage in that they have the resources to make their mobile shopping experience easy. Andrew Gazdecki, the CEO of Bizness Apps, which helps build shopping apps, says small business are realizing they need to invest in mobile.

ANDREW GAZDECKI: If they don't have a mobile experience, there've been studies that show that customers will bounce over to competitors' websites.

SYDELL: Gazdecki says ease of use is crucial to success. He says everyone from restaurants to jewelry stores are getting into the mobile game. Clearly, we are reaching the point where if you can think it, you can buy it right then and there.

Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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