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Smartphones win for traffic, tablets for revenue over Thanksgiving

All signs point to mobile having played a significant role for shoppers over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. However, taking a closer look at the numbers, there were clear differences between smartphone and tablet consumers.

It appears that tablets – in particular the iPad – were a significant driver of online sales over the holiday weekend. Smartphones, on the other hand, proved to be significant traffic drivers and invaluable in-store shopping tools.

“This weekend proved how incredibly important mobile commerce has become, and how influential these channels are for retailers,” said Scott Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, Morrisville, NC. “The line between online and offline commerce continues to blur as consumers whip out their mobile devices to compare prices while shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores, or shop online while waiting in line for Black Friday deals.  

“Retailers need to make sure that their Web sites are mobile-optimized to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to purchase via these channels,” he said.

Smart in-store shopping
Overall, 24 percent of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, up from 14.3 percent last year, according to data from IBM.

Smartphones were the stronger in-store mobile device.

IBM also found that 58 percent of consumers used smartphones in stores to shop for bargains on Black Friday compared with 41 percent who used tablets.

Overall, mobile sales increased significantly, reaching 16 percent of online sales, up from 9.8 percent last year, per IBM.

Also pointing to the strength of smartphones for in-store shopping are results from price comparison app PriceGrabber, which reports that smartphones accounted for 17.8 percent of its traffic on Sunday, Nov. 25 compared with 11.50 percent for tablets.

Smartphone use is also growing faster, up 3,288.5 percent from last year compared to 1,027.5 percent for tablets. PriceGrabber’s desktop traffic dropped 13.5 percent.

Smartphone users accessed store locators, wish lists and reviews more frequently than tablet users, per Branding Brand.

Tablet commerce
Overall, it appears that smartphones were the biggest drivers of online traffic, with 20 percent of the total while tablets were the biggest drivers of revenue with 14 percent of the total, per Branding Brand.

“Tablet users consistently spent more per order than smartphone and desktop users,” said Chris Mason, CEO of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh, PA. “On Thanksgiving, the average order value of a tablet user was two percent higher than desktop users, on Black Friday it was nine percent higher.

Tablet users viewed approximately two more pages per visit than smartphone users and converted at rate 3.5 higher than smartphone users, according to Branding Brand.

Some retailers may have been caught off guard by the strength of tablet commerce over the holiday weekend. A recent report from Skava found that only seven percent of the top 100 U.S. online retailers have a tablet-optimized Web site while 95 percent are optimized for smartphones.

The retailers without a strong tablet experience could end up being among the biggest losers this holiday season. The Skava report reveals that tablet shoppers are more lucrative online shoppers than smartphone users, with 2.3 percent of tablet shoppers likely to purchase goods online compared to 0.6 percent of smartphone users.

By device, the iPad was one of the biggest factors driving mobile shopping and commerce over Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Shoppers are using mobile to look for deals and special offers and the iPad is a big winner. ShopLocal, a division of Gannet that delivers retailer offers online and via mobile, reports that so far in November, its iPad traffic has grown 172 percent compared with 67 percent for mobile overall.

IBM’s data reveals that the iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, reaching nearly ten percent of online shopping. The iPad also dominated tablet traffic with an 88.3 percent share followed by the Barnes and Noble Nook with 3.1 percent, the Amazon Kindle with 2.4 percent and the Samsung Galaxy with 1.8 percent.

In terms of mobile traffic overall, the iPhone came in second with 8.7 percent of mobile traffic and Android with 5.5 percent.

“Mobile is no longer a sliver of your audience,” Branding Brand’s Mr. Mason said. “It is quickly becoming the main point of interaction.

“Retailers should enter 2013 with a mobile-first strategy for their e-commerce presence,” he said.

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