Lean Back And Buy: iPad Dominates Affiliate M-Commerce

Tablet-Buy-Botton-AOne almost tires of the gargantuan scale of the migration to the mobile Web and apps. Just yesterday, for instance, Hearst Digital reported that mobile traffic to its major properties grew nearly 2000% between April 2011 and April 2012. At some brands such as Cosmopolitan, about a third of traffic is from devices now.

And with great traffic comes great questions about monetization…unless, of course, monetization is the model. When it comes to m-commerce we are seeing growth on a similar curve to overall traffic. U.K. affiliate network AffiliateWindow reports this week that the share of sales coming from devices in May reached 8%, up from 3.92% last year. In a single month, the mobile share came up from 7.3%. The performance network saw over 140,000 transactions in May, compared to 60,000 in the same month last year.

Overall mobile traffic through the affiliate network is actually a bit low compared to some other retail and media segments. They find mobile traffic just below 11% of total activity at their sites, but up exponentially from the total of 3.5% last year. But retail does get a much higher share of traffic than average among all the segments.

In terms of device share, m-commerce still is Apple’s world. And the rest of us just visit there. From January through May 2012, AffiliateWindow was seeing 55% of its mobile transactions come from the iPad. If this isn’t the dream shopping device we have been waiting for, I don’t know what is. You have a tactile large screen, working in lean-back mode, during prime time when the TV is on spewing consumer goods at you. Think of it as a perfect shopping storm.

And the iPhone alone is good for 29% of the m-commerce they are recording. So iOS is driving 84% of transactions from devices. Android nets only 11%.

Conversion rates for affiliate traffic have been increasing steadily and markedly. While mobile conversions on the network were slightly above 2-1/4% in May of last year, they are now just over 3%. The iPad is converting now at about the same rate, just below 4.5%.

The importance of a mobile-optimized site for goosing conversions cannot be overstated. In one example in the AffiliateWindow network, merchant Foot Asylum went from 1.4% of sales coming from devices before launching its mobile-friendly iteration to 14%, with a 500% increase in revenue. Just as important is optimizing all the way through the purchase chain, including checkout. This has been an ongoing problem for m-commerce.

Even sites that are fully optimized for mobile often fall back on checkout processes from the standard Web site. This is important, because when users are ready to buy on a device, they are ready to buy more. AffiliateWindow finds that just on iOS the average order value is 25% higher than on the Web e-commerce site.

If the rapid adoption of mobile as a shopping tool was the story of 2011, then faster-than-expected device-based commerce will be the story of 2012. In this case, while mobile commerce is strong, it is really tablets that are driving much of this. 

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