The importance of tablets to ecommerce is well-documented, with research consistently showing that the devices convert at a much higher rate than smartphones.

And new data from Adobe shows global websites are now getting more traffic from tablets than smartphones, at 8% and 7% of monthly page views respectively.

This is particularly impressive considering that the device only came to market three years ago, and it’s also good news for ecommerce sites.

In December we reported that conversion rates from tablets were four times higher than on smartphones, and actually peaked above desktop on Cyber Monday.

Furthermore, eBay told us this week that one third of all its transactions are touched by mobile and sales from tablet devices are up 55% compared to the same time last year. It also found that tablet shoppers spend £154 on average compared to £85 on smartphone.

And other companies have also begun to respond to this trend, with data from our Conversion Rate Optimization Report showing that 35% of company respondents are now designing their websites for mobile users and 23% for tablets, an increase of 10% on last year's survey.

The reason for the shift is that although smartphones are far more common, tablets offer a far more convenient browsing experience.

Stats show that smartphones are used mostly in the day, while tablets are typically used during the evening when people are relaxing at home.

Whether it is leisurely surfing the web, engaging with video, or shopping online, on average internet users view 70% more pages per visit when browsing with a tablet compared to a smartphone.

This tallies with previous data which showed that one tablet generates as many website visits as four smartphones.

UK internet users most likely to use a tablet

While smartphone usage is relatively similar in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, the UK leads the way in terms of tablet usage.

Overall, UK internet users are far more likely to browse on a mobile device than their counterparts in France and Germany.

Furthermore, the data highlights the cultural difference between the East and West, with smartphones proving to be more popular than tablets among Japanese and Chinese consumers.


Which sectors are seeing the most traffic?

As mentioned, tablets are frequently used for shopping and leisure time, so it’s no surprise that retail websites see the biggest share of traffic.

Auto and travel also attract a large proportion of tablet traffic, followed by media/entertainment sites.

This again serves to underline the fact that retailers need to have a tablet strategy in place, and can’t simply lump smartphones and tablets into one big ‘mobile’ category.

Fashion brand Net-A-Porter was quick to see the unique opportunity offered by the device, and has produced a number of apps that cater to tablet users with a mix of entertaining content as well as ecommerce functionality.

Adobe's data shows that telecoms providers see the largest share of smartphone traffic, presumably because customers go online to pay and check their phone bills.

David Moth

Published 8 March, 2013 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 (5)



I have to think this trend will continue as more people buy iPads and Android tablets.

over 5 years ago



Why do we keep comparing tablets and smartphones?

Theoretically they are both 'mobile', but as this article points out, usage is completely different.

I'd be more interested in desktop v tablet comparisons.

over 5 years ago

Pete Williams

Pete Williams, Managing Director at Gibe Digital

as tablet is much more A. Easy to view non optimised sites on and B. delivers a better user experience to the visitor, I can certainly see the growth in tablet views growing. The challenge for everyone is to understand the unique environment that a tablet offers which could be comparable to the I-newspaper compared to the Independent or other broad sheets. Tablet sites need to be concise and deliver content suitable for brief browsing with links to greater detail.

over 5 years ago


Kate Wooding, Strategist at Equator

As long as everyone is clear that owning a tablet does not magically make you buy more! Rather that:

A) tablet owners are more likely to be higher spenders online as the cost of tablets is quite high. As the cost of tablets comes down (which is already starting to happen) I would expect to see this reduce.
B) For those sites that don't have a mobile-specific view, browsing and buying on a tablet is a much more user-friendly experience than on a smartphone. As more sites develop mobile-specific layouts (or go responsive) I would expect to see the 'advantage' of tablet over smartphone reduce.

In other words, it's not just the tablet that is producing this behaviour, it's the people using the tablets too!

And iain I agree - tablets and desktops would be the much better comparison.

over 5 years ago


Sean Owens

With the rise in more responsive design the ecommerce sites that are not optimized for responsive are sure to loose out.

However we are seeing where users are using a non responsive site to signup to car insurance and input all the details from mobile devices and this is on a non responsive layout. I have to show the client this article to get them to see the light.

over 5 years ago

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