It's Possible To Build Mobile Commerce Without cannibalising Desktop Revenue

An impressive 13 per cent of eBay’s volume— calculated as a percentage of the total value of merchandise transacted on the site— is now mobile, according to Morgan Stanley Research. 

That means that one out of every eight dollars flowing through eBay is a result of consumers shopping on smartphones and tablets. That adds up to roughly $10 billion in mobile volume. 

But what about cannibalization? Are these “new” mobile consumers or simply desktop shoppers shifting their eyeballs and purchases to mobile? Will e-commerce companies see any real revenue growth from mobile? 

While some mobile volume does cannibalise PC-based activity, some of it is incremental. In other words, it wouldn’t have happened without mobile.

Morgan Stanley estimates that for 2012, about 4 per cent of eBay’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) was due to incremental gains thanks to mobile, while 9 per cent was mobile volume cannibalised from activity that otherwise would have happened on a desktop. 

These numbers give hope to all the players: from e-commerce giants betting on mobile for growth, to traditional retailers hoping for a second chance at digital, and upstart e-retailers targeting mobile shoppers.

E-commerce presents daunting obstacles to success since it is so costly to fulfil orders and maintain inventory. But mobile commerce may create room for a disruptive new entrant. 

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