Findings presented at the Mobile Insider Summit Friday suggest that when it comes to m-commerce, smartphones are for browsing but tablets are for buying. During a panel focusing on mobile shopping during the 2011 holiday season, mobile retail and marketing experts indicated the tablet was the device of choice for mobile transactions.
Dan Israel, strategy lead for the mobile practice at Sapient/Nitro, pointed out that most of the mobile traffic is coming through the smartphone, but most purchasing in mobile is done through tablets. “It makes sense. You have a larger canvas for shopping and buying,” he said.
Israel cited Sapient/Nitro research showing that 38% of consumers rated smartphones as useful for shopping compared to 56% for tablets. In a similar vein, Sheila Collins, consumer digital marketing strategist at American Express, pointed to data showing customers tend to spend 20% to 30% more on tablets than other devices.
Anecdotal findings reported in The Wall Street Journal last fall also suggested that tablet users are placing bigger orders -- up to 10% to 20% more -- than average shoppers on PCs or smartphones. Retailers including Macy’s, Gap and Abercrombie and Fitch all attested to seeing higher conversion rates on customers using tablets. A study in December commissioned by marketing technology firm Zmags estimated tablet shoppers would spend $325 on average during the holidays.
The more e -commerce-friendly nature of tablets combined with their proliferation is a welcome trend for retailers focused on the mobile channel. Tablet ownership nearly doubled to 19% just during the holiday period, according to findings released earlier this month by the Pew Research Center.
IBM said mobile as a proportion of all digital sales doubled in December to 11% from 5.5% a year ago. And mobile traffic nearly tripled to 14.6% of all sessions on a retailer’s site from 5.6% during the year-earlier period.
For American Eagle Outfitter, m-commerce sales tripled at year’s end compared to a year ago, according to Eric Schmidt, the apparel retailer’s mobile marketing manager. Still, American Eagle and other companies are just starting to experiment with mobile marketing technologies like QR codes and emerging mobile wallet systems.
In that vein, the company ran a pilot program to accept mobile payments via Google Wallet in October, which Schmidt said yielded positive -- if limited -- results. The biggest problem has been the limited number of NFC-equipped devices available to take advantage of the technology that lets shoppers simply tap their phones at checkout to pay.
Underscoring the online competition, Ashley Harmeling, director of mobile at flash sale site Rue La La, stressed that the company relies on its app to connect with customers at times when they may be standing on line at a store or otherwise looking to kill time. “We need to be with our customers all the time,” she said. More brick-and-mortar retailers are likely to catch onto that idea in the coming year.