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Are retailers doing enough to leverage Kindle Fire?

April 30, 2013

While Apple’s iPad continues to dominate the tablet category, the Kindle Fire is a growing opportunity for retailers looking to reach Android tablet users if they can just get past the fact that Amazon is the manufacturer.

Data from several different sources show that traffic from Kindle Fire tablets is growing as are conversions and ad impressions. The numbers suggest that focusing on optimizing Internet experiences and building applications for the Kindle Fire is an important first step for retailers looking to reach these users, something that many are not currently doing.

“Many merchants are redirecting Kindle Fire Web traffic to their smartphone sites,” said Joey Rahimi, co-founder and chief information officer of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh, PA. “Currently, it is a best practice to redirect tablets eight-inches and below to the mobile site and provide clear opt-out capabilities that allow users to switch to the classic desktop site.

“Kindle Fire users are most likely using for shopping, as it’s a default application on the operating system and embedded into the Kindle Fire experience,” he said.

“A retailer’s best option to compete with Amazon for Kindle Fire users is to optimize for the mobile Web, since nearly 50 percent of smartphone shoppers begin their purchase with a Google search.”

Satisfied customers
Branding Brand reports that Kindle Fire visits in April were up 110 percent compared to December 2012. Post-holiday conversion is also creeping up, with the Kindle Fire experiencing 12 percent increases every month since January 2013.

However, the iPad accounts for nearly 97 percent of all tablet traffic and 99 percent of all tablet revenue.

Many retailers are not big fans of because they feel the online giant is stealing their customers by undercutting their prices.

The Kindle Fire is built on a modified version of the Android operating system and has approximately a 33 percent share of the Android tablet market.

The device is also well-liked by users.

While the iPad ranks highest in terms of owner satisfaction among tablet owners with 836 points out of a possible 1,000, the Kindle Fire is a close second with 829 points, according to a new report from J.D. Power and Associates.

The report found that tablet owners who also have a smartphone spend 36 percent more time browsing the Internet on their tablet than on their smartphone.

Mobile ad impressions
The Kindle Fire also performs respectably when it comes to mobile advertising.

Once again, the iPad dominates and accounts for 91.6 percent of all tablet ad impressions in March while the iPad mini had 6.2 percent of impressions, according to recent data from Velti.

However, the Kindle Fire was the next strongest device with just 1.6 percent of total tablet impressions. The Kindle Fire also dominates the Android tablet segment with 73.4 percent of all Android tablet impressions.

One challenge retailers face on Kindle Fire is encouraging these users to spend more.

According to the Branding Brand Mobile Commerce Index, Kindle Fire users have an average order value of $100.33, compared to the iPad’s $133.79 while conversion is .18 percent compared to the iPad’s 1.25 percent.

Building apps
For retailers looking to build applications for the Kindle Fire, there are a couple of a challenges.

One is that mobile applications do not just appear in the Amazon marketplace, unlike in Apple’s App Store.

“Consumers know the steps they need to take to find and download an app with iTunes, but there’s a learning curve with Amazon marketplace right now,” said Bjorn Hildahl, vice president of  product management at Kony, Orlando, FL. “As such, companies may need to do more marketing to get better traction for their content and to engage users on those devices.

Another challenge is the difference in form factor – there is a completely different user experience when using the Kindle versus using a traditional application, per Mr. Hildahl.

“Simply porting over a native app built for the iPad isn’t going to create the same type of customer experience,” Mr. Hildahl said.

Savvy retailers and marketers are increasingly looking to have omnichannel strategies that ensure they are reaching consumers wherever they are. With the Kindle Fire’s role growing all the time, this means they should be considering how to incorporate the device into their programs.

“What we’re seeing right now is organizations become device agnostic – they’re pursuing multichannel strategies rather than focusing on singular devices, for example, where companies were only developing for the iPhone a few years ago,” Mr. Hildahl said.

“Companies are now including additional channels in their overall mobile strategies,” he said. “Because of the Kindle’s price point and ease of use for media, any retailer whose services include movies, books, music etc. should be developing for the Kindle, as that’s where more and more consumers are going to be consuming that kind of information.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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