Analysts from research firm Gartner Inc. say the shift from e-commerce to m-commerce will reach something of a tipping point by 2015. According to Gartner's analysts, mobile applications and social media will account for 50 percent of Web sales by then. Additionally, Gartner said that e-commerce merchants will start offering "context-aware, mobile-based application capabilities that can be accessed via a browser or installed as an application on a phone" at that point.

The analyst discussions came as a part of the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Fla., held between Oct. 16-20.

"E-commerce organizations 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 vice president at Gartner, in a statement.

Alvarez added that as more people use smartphones, they will expect the customer experience to extend, and be supported by, mobile devices. He also said consumers will demand that social aspects of the Web be a part of the experience.

Along with the shift to m-commerce, Gartner said it predicts that 80 percent of North American and European online sellers will expand into Brazil, Russia, India, Africa, Japan or China by 2013.

"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," Alvarez said.

Entering these countries via an Internet sales model lets organizationse establish a presence in locations without having to create a physical sales location, Alvarez said.

For more articles on this topic, please visit our Trends/Statistics research center.

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