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Tablets driving larger order values than smartphones and desktop:

May 23, 2012

Consumers are using tablets differently from smartphones

As mobile commerce continues to grow, many retailers are beginning to see key differences between smartphone and tablet shoppers, according to a new report from and Forrester Research.

In the 2012 Research State of Retailing Online survey, 49 percent of retailers reported that the average order value via a tablet device is now higher than desktop. The survey found that the average order value of consumers shopping via tablet device is approximately $160 compared with $134 for those making a purchase via a smartphone.

“The biggest news is the numbers surrounding the actual use of tablets,” said Vicki Cantrell, executive director at, Washington, DC. “Mobile is getting bigger but we have started to track smartphones and tablets separately because we really see a difference in how consumers use tablets and the results that retailers are seeing.

“In many cases, the average order value is exceeding that on desktop and the site conversion is quite strong – not as strong as on PC but much stronger than on a smartphone,” she said.

Mobile ad budgets grow
The site conversion rate for smartphones is one percent vs. 2.4 percent for tablets, according to the report.

The survey also found that 28 percent of retailers are seeing about the same average order value from tablets as from their Web sites.

Tablets are also driving a larger percentage of overall Web sales, according to the survey. As a percentage of retailers’ total Web sales in 2011, tablet sales were 3.2 percent and smartphone sales were 1.5 percent.

In terms of how retailers are allocating their marketing budgets, the report found that less than four percent of total retail marketing budgets is dedicated to mobile advertising. However, 80 percent of retailers have increased their mobile advertising budgets compared to last year, although by less than 50 percent.

When it comes to the mobile marketing tools they are using, 75 percent of retailers said they use QR codes for in-store mobile marketing, 55 percent use smarpthone paid search campaigns, 52 percent use email optimization, 41 percent use mobile display ad campaigns, 39 percent use tablet paid search campaigns, 27 percent use other location based marketing, 25 percent use check-in campaigns, 23 percent use SMS, 20 percent use tablet display ads and 18 percent use identifying device IDs.

Interestingly, QR codes are the leading mobile marketing tool in terms of use for retailers with less than $10 million in annual online sales and for those with more than $100 million in online sales. Retailers in between these two extremes prefer mobile email optimization, with QR codes coming in second.

“I found it surprising that retailers are considering the use of QR codes the most popular mobile marketing strategy,” Ms. Cantrell said. “The small guys and the big guys are really getting some great results and putting in some investment from their mobile marketing budgets behind QR codes in the store.”

Easy checkout
Other key findings include that search and email are still the top drivers of Web traffic from either a smartphone or tablet, with eight in ten retailers placing these channels at the top.

Additionally, 22 percent of retailers report that social media is a top-three source of mobile traffic.

Retailers also reported that 20 percent of emails in a given campaign are opened on a mobile device.

When it comes to mobile apps, 45 percent of online retailers have implemented mobile apps, with retailers having an average of 500,000 downloads for their smartphone apps and 100,500 for their iPad apps. IPhones still account for the lion’s share of smartphone app downloads at 70 percent.

Among retailers who have tablets and smartphone apps, 45 percent of their total mobile device browser sessions for smartphones occur on the Web and 17 percent on apps. For tablets, 28 percent occur on the Web and 11 percent on apps.

In terms of how smartphones and tablets are used, the report found that smartphones are used more than tablets for product detail information (84 percent versus 80 percent) and for store maps (49 percent versus 38 percent). Tablets are used more than smartphones for customers ratings and reviews (64 percent versus 59 percent), easy check out (46 percent versus 35 percent) and request for help (28 percent versus 20 percent).

Optimized experiences
Retailers plan to invest in similar features and functions for their smartphone and tablet strategies except in a couple of areas. When it comes to enabling easy payment options, 56 percent plan to invest in this area for smartphones and 46 percent for tablet.

Additionally, 49 percent plan to invest in smartphone QR code scanning while only 37 percent plan to invest in tablet QR code scanning.

“Retailers are really understanding that mobility has many facets that they need to pay attention to, the differentiation between each, and will be spending the money to make sure they are optimized for tablet,” Ms. Cantrell said. “Which means they might have to run three different things, but it is really important to the consumer who wants a great experience on any device.”

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