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M-Commerce takes off during the holiday season 2011

As shoppers hunt down bargains and gift ideas for the holidays, it will be hard for some to remember a time when they couldn’t pull out their smartphone and hunt down a store location, compare a product’s price, or scan customer reviews.

It’s only been a short while since smartphones and tablets such as Apple’s iPad arrived on the scene in a meaningful way, but already these devices are having a profound effect on how shoppers behave and how retailers communicate with them.

Mobile shopping only makes up a tiny fraction of retail sales, but it is accelerating at a brisk pace. Last year, about 3.8 percent of all ecommerce sales were made on mobile devices, according to John Squire, chief strategy officer at IBM Coremetrics.

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