Commentary

Tablet/Smartphone Commerce Site Share Escalates: So Where Are The Cool Multi-Screen Experiences?

The mobilization of e-commerce into m-commerce is lagging considerably behind the rate of shift from desktop to mobile media. In just a couple of years, for instance, I have seen major content brands move from single-digit shares of their traffic going to devices to more than 50% of their traffic now going to smartphones and tablets. Every media brand varies, of course. But in my ongoing poll of media companies 30% mobile and growing is fairly common.

And so it’s notable that in its latest EQ report on e-commerce activity, the company Monetate finds that 78.99% of traffic going to e-commerce Web sites was still coming from the traditional desktop or laptop. Nevertheless, the share of traffic coming from devices has almost doubled between Q1 2012 and Q1 2013 to stand now at just over 21%. The EQ study is based on over 500 million actions at e-commerce sites specifically. And the company uses analyses among the same sites across quarters to maintain consistency in most of their metrics. And what they found is that tablets and smartphones are about evenly divided in terms of driving traffic to commercial sites. Tablets comprised 10.58% of traffic, while smartphones were responsible for 10.44%.

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For all of the discussion about Apple eroding tablet share, in terms of actual force in the marketplace the iPad has not diminished by much. Its overall share of Web site traffic among all tablets declined incrementally from 91.68% in the first quarter last year to 89.28% in the first quarter of this year. The Kindle Fire actually is the big loser in all of this, seeing its share shaved from 3.58% last year to 2.51% this year. The group that is coming on strong is the general Android tablet, which rose from a 4.75% share to an 8.2% share. Clearly, Google and Samsung among others have helped make a convincing case for the viability of Android as a tablet platform.

The iPad still excels handily at conversion rates -- at 2.68% for commerce sites, compared to 2.04% for Android tablets. And again, the Kindle Fire is a distant third at 1.5%. And to reconfirm what is already conventional wisdom in the industry, tablet conversion rates at 2.6% are even higher than traditional Web conversions of 2.51% and about triple that of smartphones at .79%.

Among the most interesting statistics from this EQ survey are signs of that inevitable evening out between the two major mobile operating systems in some key metrics. For instance, when it comes to the average order value made on tablets, the iPad is on top, but only by a very small margin -- the difference between $99.05 and $95.48. The Kindle Fire lags behind at $82.58. The average order value on the Android phone is actually slightly ahead of the iPhone, $107.14 versus $107.03. And even in terms of conversion rates, the Android phones come out on top at .83% versus .76% for the iPhone.

Nevertheless, Apple users remain remarkably more active as data consumers and mobile shoppers -- 63.2% of commerce Web site visits were coming from an iPhone compared to 35.52% from an Android phone.

The tremendous disparity between tablet and smartphone conversions makes me wonder what sorts of commercial Web site browsing behaviors are going on and how they could be more effectively connected to buying behaviors on tablets and desktops. Aside from the shared cart on some retail sites, I have yet to see much hard thinking about how to facilitate cross-screen behaviors. In many cases I use mobile Web sites and mobile apps without any knowledge or appreciation of the fact that the same brands have a tablet app. I have no particular appreciation of the fact that I might do very easily what comes naturally -- browsing in the light manner on one device and sealing the deal on another.

Throwing content across screens must be the next dark art that mobile developers have to address. It has to be something more than just shared shopping carts. Seems to me that there must be some sort of contextual awareness so that one app knows when and where you were looking at items and were saving items in another app from the retailer.

There should be multiple ways that person can save an item for later use and even remind themselves that they saved that item. After all, just because we browse on one device and shop on another doesn’t mean we remember what we were doing on either. Right now, I use the Amazon shopping cart as an ersatz reminder to myself of things I want to consider but not necessarily buy. Surely there is a better way to do this -- and a way that the retailer can start a more helpful conversation from seeing these behaviors.

4 comments about "Tablet/Smartphone Commerce Site Share Escalates: So Where Are The Cool Multi-Screen Experiences?".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, May 24, 2013 at 4:27 a.m.

    Re: "There should be multiple ways that person can save an item for later use and even remind themselves that they saved that item ... Surely there is a better way to do this". Here's one obvious one: we let your customer click a button and get an email containing bookmarks of all the products they looked at recently. Any cart + support for leading ESPs.

  2. Rudhra Adhin from YD, May 29, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.

    Steve, a sequel to this article could be titled "M-Commerce blindness". As you stated, you visit websites on you mobile phone but might close the deal on another (mobile or desktop device). Unfortunately most e-commerce organisation still rely on cookies to track their e-commerce platform. Since cookietracking is very limited on mobile devices, they simply have no clue how many sales they are actually missing because visitors don't close the deal on their mobile for unkown reasons.

    One solution would be to create an app. This opens up a complete new world where tracking is very accurate.
    In your opinion, based on your experience and talks with experts, would you agree an app is 'the way' at this moment, to generate a growing revenue rate via m-commerce, compared to mobile sites?

    A good example would be booking.com as they went from 1 billion to 3 billion revenue via mobile devices, and their app clearly provides a much better user experience compared to their mobile site. I consider this company to be an example for the (travel and retail) branche.

  3. Steve Smith from Mediapost, May 29, 2013 at 10:11 a.m.

    Rudhra, apps are wonderful in their ability to track compared to the mobile web. But in practice most retailers especially find that it is only their most loyal users who really engage with the branded app. People want only so many retail apps on their phones. From the consumer's perspective the mobile website is often giving them much of what they want, information, while the hard-core brand loyalist would tend to value that higher usability from the app. So while it is ideal for a retailer to push consumers to the app, it is probably unrealistic to expect a large share of shoppers to adopt the app.

  4. Rudhra Adhin from YD, May 29, 2013 at 10:29 a.m.

    Agree. It depends on industry. Fashion for example definitely benefits from a (tablet) app since people prefer to buy clothings at their favourite shops. Also I believe casual (citytrips) and business travelers would definitely use an app. I think its important to provide extra value, like check in options for an airline app. Even if people delete the app again, if their first experience was good they will install it again and you will recognize is as the same person as earlier since device ids don't change unless they reset their device.

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