IT market research group Gartner forecasts that companies will generate 50% of web sales via their social presence and mobile applications by 2015.

In a presentation given at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in the US, the group said that vendors in the e-commerce market would begin to offer new context-aware, mobile-based application capabilities that could be accessed via a browser or installed as an application on a phone.

With the number of mobile phones set to overtake PCs, customers will use mobile browsers and applications as the main points of interaction.

“E-commerce organisations 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 time, e-commerce vendors will begin to offer context-aware mobile-shopping solutions as part of their overall web sales offerings.”

According to Alvarez customers were desperate for new and easy ways to interact with the organisations they dealt with. “As more people use smartphones, they will expect an extension of their customer experience to be supported by this kind of device while demanding that social aspects of the web be intertwined with this experience. At the same time, organisations are looking toward new countries and regions for growth. As a result, it is time to take a fresh look at your organisation's web sales capabilities to ensure that social software, mobile technology and globalisation are part of your organisation's online future,” he said.

Gartner noted that industries including entertainment, software development/publishing and media were being driven by fast-moving changes in their businesses, such as mobility, and the increasing number of mobile devices available to their buyers. Others were finding that sales of additional services and products could be added to their customer-service-focused websites.

The research group predicted that by 2013, 80% of North American and European online sellers would expand into Brazil, Russia, India, Africa, Japan or China. Organisations based in North America and Western Europe were already launching website-based sales operations in new countries, in the hope of expanding to new markets, it said.

These organisations believed that untapped countries could spur growth by enabling the enticing of potential customers who had never purchased from the organisation, but who had a desire for its products.

“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,” said Alvarez. “By entering these countries via an internet sales model, organisations can establish a presence in locations without having to create a physical sales location.” - I-Net Bridge