If you’ve just signed off your mobile site, designed with smartphone users in mind, and are about to tick that box on your ‘to do’ list which says ‘mobile website’, some new research may require you to think again.
Consultants Logan Tod & Co.’s 6th Annual Online Future Shopping Index found that tablets had come from nowhere in the past 12 months to rival smartphones for online purchasing.
Their survey, conducted at the end of last month, found that 14% of their respondents had used an iPad or other tablet device to make a purchase for Christmas 2011, compared with 15% who had used a smartphone – this despite much lower penetration of tablet devices. Their prediction was that 2012 would see online sales from tablets at least equal those of smartphones.
However, tablet users aren’t just more likely to use their device for online shopping, they spend more when they do too.
Recent analysis by Adobe of 16.2 billion visits to 150 online retailers found that tablet user spent an average of $123, 54% more than smartphone shoppers ($80 average) and 21% higher than PC users ($102). Conversion of tablets users to puchase was found to be almost 3 times higher than smartphone users (2.3% vs. 0.8%), in part explaining the increased usage found by Logan Tod despite the much lower penetration.
As smartphones become more affordable and their adoption approaches ‘mass’ levels (penetration in the UK is nearing 60%), their ownership becomes less a sign of affluence. However, tablet owners, because of the luxury nature of the device in terms of price and utility, are more likely to be earning above the average and may represent a better focus for the efforts of premium and luxury marketers.
The problem for those who have already constructed their mobile site with smartphone owners in mind is that tablet owners appear to approach the shopping experience in a more relaxed mode than those shopping on smartphones. Hence, the limited text and smaller images and graphics which appeal to smartphone owners grappling with small screens and overloaded 3G networks are not going to appeal to tablet users whose devices have the ability to showcase high quality images and are likely to be hooked up to the wifi at home.
As with all mobile conundrums, the best starting place for a solution for your brand is your own site metrics and an understanding of how many mobile users are visiting your site, what devices they’re using and what they’re trying to do. But these surveys would suggest that your optimum e-commerce strategy may need 3 strands (PC, smartphone and tablet) rather than 2.