Throughout 2012 we’ve seen numerous studies that highlight the massive difference between shopping behaviours on tablet and smartphones.

The usability of each device should make this obvious, yet they were often – and occasionally still are – lumped together in the mobile category when comparing sales and traffic stats to desktop computers.

This is despite the fact that data published by Adobe in May shows that one tablet generates as many website visits as four smartphones.

By the end of Q1 2012 smartphones accounted for 6.1% of site visits compared to 4.3% on tablet.

However, smartphones only maintain a greater share of website visits due to the lower penetration rate of tablets, with 5x more smartphones shipped across North America and Western Europe compared to tablets.

And new data from Screen Pages highlights the vast difference in conversion rates achieved by each device.

Across 16 of its clients’ websites the average conversion rate was 4.81% between 1 and 15 December.

A decent proportion of the traffic comes from iPads (13.3%) and iPhones (6.9%), and the conversions on each device are remarkably varied.

In average terms, the conversion ratio from desktops was 5.41% – 0.6% higher than the overall average. 

IPads converted less well than desktops at 4.16%, while iPhones bring up the rear with 1.3% – only a quarter as effective as desktops.

Obviously this is a relatively small sample size, but it adds to a convincing body of evidence that proves retailers need to be design their sites and digital marketing campaigns with tablet users in mind.

For example, data from Affiliate Window shows that iPads account for 55% of mobile commerce, compared to 29% on iPhone and 13% on Android devices.

Similarly, data from Monetate shows that the average conversion rate for tablets in Q2 2012 was 3.17%, slightly behind desktops (3.34%) but far higher than smartphones (1.09%).

However Monetate’s report delivered somewhat surprising results for average order values, with smartphones achieving a higher AOV than tablets.

Both iPhone ($97.49) and Android devices ($97.16) drive higher average orders that iPad ($96.80).

This contradicts data from Adobe’s Digital Marketing Insights report, which found that tablet visitors to ecommerce sites spend 20% more than desktop shoppers and twice as much as those using smartphones.

Finally, a report published earlier this week by Kenshoo found that tablets drive the highest average order value at £85.55, followed by smartphone (£77.80) and desktop (£75.93). 

It also revealed that smartphone conversions lag way behind the other devices at just 1%, compared to 4.99% on tablet and 5.16% on desktop.

David Moth

Published 19 December, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (4)


Nick Stamoulis

As we move further into 2013 it will be interesting to see how the numbers shift. I imagine that tablets will slowly build up their market share and, as you mentioned, the usability is very different. I'd expect to see more people shopping/buying/researching on tablets because it's easier than on a smartphone. Bigger, brighter and easier to navigate.

over 5 years ago



It kind of makes sense because iPads aren't cheap. It's safe to assume the users have decent income and are willing to spend more. Also browsing on the iPad seems to be a more leisurely activity

over 5 years ago



This study makes a certain amount of sense -- until you get to the comparisons. They are comparing conversions on "selected" websites (whatever that means, but I'll bet that it is sites that they handpicked from their customer lists) with tablet and handset conversions -- not a cross section of all handsets and tablets, but sites that they "selected."

From that they are claiming that desktop results, which they claim are much higher.

Huh? First time I've seen that.

over 5 years ago


Craig Sullivan

In a lot of cases, the reason phones convert badly (or indeed, why tablets don't convert higher than desktops) is down to design choices, device and browser testing and many other factors.

Whilst comparing them on *your* site, to try and improve them, is a noble goal - comparing your differing mix to someone else is pointless.

It's a bit like saying "Everybody's conversion rate fluctuates around depending on stuff" - it's true but it doesn't tell me why.

I see lots of well crafted tablet experiences where the conversion is on par (and very often higher) than desktop and mobile clients. I think what people aim for and what they deliver for tablet users are quite different sometimes

Mobile sites convert much lower but it does depend on the user experience - if you haven't got an optimised site, your conversion rate *will* suck. And most companies don't count the outcomes (phone, find a map) that are conversions of a different kind. When doing work for sites like Autoglass and others round the globe, we regularly found that phone traffic was 2-5 times higher than online transactions.

So what should your conversion rate be on all these devices. The simple answer is "Higher than last month" <grin>

over 5 years ago

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