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iPad conversion rates are double that of desktop, and almost twice as high as other mobile devices, according to stats that show the value of tablet users for online retailers. 

According to stats from Affiliate Window's M-commerce white paper, the average conversion rate for iPad was 3.82% in August, compared to 1.9% for desktop (i.e. non-mobile).

The stats suggest that retailers need to optimise their websites to take full advantage of iPad shoppers. 

About the data

The data here is taken from Affiliate Window's advertiser network, and there is a lot of it. In August, the stats cover 81.9m visits to merchants and 1.57m sales. 

The stats don't cover in-app purchases, except in cases where the customer is taken out of the app to complete the transaction on a website. 

This is affiliate traffic we are looking at, so there may be some differences between that and 'normal' web traffic, but the data is still revealing, and shows the growing importance of mobile and tablets for e-commerce.

According to Affiliate Window's Matt Swan: 

The traffic that we are measuring is just traffic that has come through affiliate partners so it will be lower than ‘general’ web traffic volumes. There are a wide range of affiliate promotional types so this could be traffic that has come through a price comparison site or a voucher code site for example. The amount of traffic to a website through the affiliate channel will vary from sector to sector and by individual advertisers, but could typically be around 5-10%.

There could be major differences in affiliate traffic and general web traffic, as affiliate traffic is typically for acquisition purposes. General traffic could include visitors who are logging into accounts, particularly relevant for sectors like telecoms.

Average order values: iPad vs the rest

As far as average order values are concerned, the iPad is king, with an AOV of £69.94, compared to £65 for desktop (i.e. non-mobile). 

As you can see from the stats, the iPhone (£48.34) does a little better than Android (£43.76), while Blackberry and other devices are way behind, a reflection of the relative user experience and ease of purchase on the different devices. 

Stats from eBay, quoted in our M-commerce Innovation Briefing, echo this trend, with the company stating that tablet users spend 50% more than PC users. 

Conversion rates: iPad vs the rest

Not only are AOVs higher, but the iPad is converting better than desktop, as well as all other mobile devices. 

And by some distance too. The average iPad conversion rate for August was 3.82%, with the next best 2.58% for Android. Non-mobile was way behind on 1.9%. 

Mobile sales: iPad vs the rest

For the first time in August, the iPad accounted for more sales than any other device, knocking the iPhone off the top spot for the first time. 

The chart also shows the growth of sales via Android devices, which have been growing at a much faster rate than Blackberry. 

Of the 1.57m sales generated by affiliates in August, 77,082 were made via mobile devices. 27,551 were via iPad, 26,360 on iPhone, and 13,862 on Android. 

Fashion works on the iPad

There is some variation between sectors, and the stats show that fashion retailers are doing better than most on iPad.

The fashion sector accounts for more than double the percentage of total sales compare with other sectors, a trend that isn't there for other mobile devices. 

Percentage of iPad sales: 

  • Retail(electrical): 1.92% of total sales via iPad.
  • Retail(fashion): 3.81%.
  • Telecoms: 1.21%.
  • Travel: 1.01%
Percentage of mobile sales: 
  • Retail(electrical): 1.64% of total sales via mobile.
  • Retail(fashion): 1.38%.
  • Telecoms: 2.22%.
  • Travel: 0.54%

Why do iPads perform so well? 

This is an interesting question, and the fact that, in some circumstances at least, they are performing better than desktop merits further investigation. 

As stats from our recent Multichannel Customer Experience Report show, the user experience offered by tablets (and this means iPad for the vast majority) is either good or excellent for the majority of respondents. 

If we look at the retail sector (which has the best customer experience according to these stats), then 68% rate the iPad experience as good or excellent, and just 4% poor or very poor. 

This is just better than mobile (66% good or better vs 7% poor or very poor), but it trails behind the online user experience. The vast majority (86%) rate the online user experience for retailers as good or excellent, and just 1% poor. 

So, the user experience on iPad sits in between desktop and mobile, and is closer to mobile according to these stats. For me, I think the user experience is much better than iPad than mobile, though I have encountered the odd issue during checkout, particularly with Verified by Visa

Users of iPads are converting better than desktop despite an inferior user experience, which means other factors are at play. Basically, iPad users are likely to have more money to spend than the average desktop, and are less price-sensitive. 

According to Matt Swan: 

iPad users typically have higher amounts of disposable income, know what they want to purchase and are using their iPad’s to transact. We typically see that a lot of desktop traffic is where consumers are in the research phase. This traffic is not necessarily going to convert and is why we are seeing lower conversion rates through desktops.

In addition, the way in which people are using tablets may also impact this. People are often using their iPads at home, perhaps browsing while in bed on a Sunday morning, or on the sofa while watching TV. In short, it's more of a lean-back experience.  

Our recent Conversion Rate Optimization Report found that just 16% of companies are conducting any kind of usability testing on tablets, but these stats show that retailers (ad fashion brands especially) need to take notice of the iPad. 

Graham Charlton

Published 16 November, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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Jonathan Wall, Group E-Commerce Director at Shop Direct GroupEnterprise

Got to question these figures, I've not heard any other report showing that iPhone converts at a Higher rate than Desktop. This graph shows an approximate 30% improvement for iPhone over Desktop and I'd question the accuracy of that as I've not spoken to any companies who are getting improved conversion on mobile than desktop. Even the improved iPad conversion over desktop makes me wonder. Or am I reading these stats incorrectly?

almost 5 years ago

Matt Swan

Matt Swan, Head of Business Intelligence at Affiliate Window

Hi Jonathan,

As mentioned in our recent white paper, mobile is primed to convert incentivised traffic. This is what we are currently seeing across the network and a trend that we expect to continue. The nature of this traffic is for click to sale conversions to be much higher than non incentivised traffic.

We see a much larger proportion of incentivised sales coming through mobile (including iPad) than we do through desktop which could explain this disproportionately higher conversion rate.

Our latest data shows that desktop conversion rates are fluctuating whilst those for the iPhone have been relatively constant, with desktop more recently outperforming mobile devices.

I would expect incentivised sales to continue to dominate through mobile – and as such the conversion rates through mobile to over index.

Thanks,
Matt

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@ Jonathan Perhaps you'd like to share some stats from Shop Direct, or at least give an indication. It would be interesting to see what kind of iPad / iPhone trends you are seeing.

I assume from your answer that desktop is converting better than iPhone for you, but how about iPad?

almost 5 years ago

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Tim Leighton-Boyce, Analyst at CxFocus

Thanks for sharing this data. It's great to see some more figures from the UK.

I think it's vital to pay attention to the point repeated by Matt and made clear in the article itself: this is affiliate traffic and these visitors were likely to be predisposed to buy. (eg Voucher code sites)

For reference, here's a link to some more data from the USA. This is an article in the Wall Street Journal citing some Forrester Research:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204010604576597151983657300.html

And, much closer to home, this is what Screen Pages found when looking across a group of their UK ecommerce clients:

http://www.screenpages.com/about/articles/mobile-research

Tim

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Tim,

You're absolutely right. I have heard anecdotally that iPad traffic is converting well and AOVs are higher for retailers, so I think there is something in this. The WSJ stats support this point

I think another question raised by this data - and there was lots of it - is the difference in conversion rates between optimised and non-optimised sites on mobile.

In the Screen Pages report, none of the sites were optimised for mobile, and I'm sure those conversion rates could be improved upon with the help of a mobile site or app.

almost 5 years ago

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Kim Webb Palacios

The Matt Swan quote from the article is right on. income level is a huge factor in our emerging understanding of the tablet space (and in our evolving understanding of the mobile space). During my recent vacation at Four Seasons Lana'i one out of every three hotel guests on the beach or by the pool had an iPad. It is a $600+ luxury that most people can't afford. Yet, in low income areas, smartphones become a transactional hub where families don't have home Internet access. That's yet another factor impacting how we should interpret usership on these devices.

almost 5 years ago

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Guido Jansen

It's a correlation, not a causation and a quite obvious one imho. People who can afford an iPad will - on average - have a higher income. A higher income means more money to spend. People with an iPad will therefore spend more. And since they have the iPad which enables them to buy stuff, part of their higher spending will be through that device. If you can point to a cause, it's not the iPad itself, but the income of their owners.

You will find similar correlations with luxury cars, rolex watches and people playing golf :).

almost 5 years ago

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William King

Nice graphics and easy to understand the difference between iPad and others. It is useful information for those people who did not still buy iPad and thinking to switch on it. It is not such a great device that its charges are much high. Can you explain me if there is something extra ordinary in it? Personally I do not rely on it.

almost 5 years ago

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Angelo

I believe that iPad customers are, by default, the least price sensitive. They bought the iPad in the first place didn't they?

Moreover, the more portable the device >>> the more time with you >>> the more chances to be used on a purchase >>> bye bye desktop!

Three... as long as iPads retain the feeling of a safer environment, they will mostly be preferred by users fearful of viruses/malware.

Last but definitely not least, iPads are sexier than PCs and, in nature... the sexiest wins :)

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@ Guido I'm not saying that the iPad itself is causing these higher conversion rates and AOVs. In fact, it is generally easier to browse and buy on desktop.

It's clearly a result of the higher income of the average iPad user, and this allows smarter brands to target this visitor group and provide the best possible experience on iPad, through optimised sites, apps etc.

almost 5 years ago

Joseph Pamboris

Joseph Pamboris, Head of Tracking Technology at OMD

Correlation and causation aside- you can detect the Ipad/tablet audience, via device when a user arrives at your site; and this audience has a higher propensity to buy and a larger average order value. The main point I have taken from this is that many digital marketers should put more effort into tailoring the website to the needs of tablet owners provided that cost of development to optimise outweighs potential lost sales from making no change at all to the site for this audience.
Similar analysis should be considered for traffic building.

almost 5 years ago

Annalaise Gibbons

Annalaise Gibbons, Head of Product Marketing at Experian

Agree with those of you who are pointing to disposable income of the user as the key contributing factor to this. I'd question the validity of the report on the basis that we don't know which merchants Affiliate Window have included in the report - it could include a large merchant who has particularly attractive cashback rates on sites like Quidco who have particularly good apps (you have to leave these to purchase anyway), and I think there is a possibility this could have skewed the results somewhat. However, this isn't to say the behaviour of the iPaid user isn't a contributory factor either - the fact the tablet is small enough to keep on the sofa / train when DRTV / Ambient marketing prompts impulse purchase is also, I believe, a significant driver of higher conversion rates. This would also be reflective of higher conversion rates on iPhones and other smart phones.

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Joseph. That's it exactly. While most sites work well enough on iPad, there are a few potential usability problems.

For example, drop-downs don't always work well, buttons and links can be too small or too close together.

I also find that Verified by Visa and 3D Secure are awful to use on iPad, especially if you have to reset your password.

almost 5 years ago

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Eddie Prentice, Marketer & Publisher at Eddie Prentice

This report does replicate the trend we see in the analytics for our e-commerce clients. First off, the fashion sector is showing an almost tenfold increase in traffic from smartphones and tablets (mostly iPhone and iPad) in the past twelve months. Admittedly this is from a low start point but traffic from mobile is now averaging around 15% on our fashion sites.

I would also accept the conclusion that iPad users have higher disposable income and are less price sensitive. Conversion rates on our sites are good but not as high as this research.

However, in our view the trend is clear. Conversion rates may be higher now as we're looking at the early adopters here. Whether this continues or not is less the issue than the fact that the volume of traffic and sales from smartphones and tablets is on a steady march upwards.

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Eddie, thanks for the insight. Good point about early adopters too.

Are you also seeing higher conversion rates for tablets than desktop?

almost 5 years ago

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Jonathan Wall, Group E-Commerce Director at Shop Direct GroupEnterprise

@Graham, we are seeing conversion rates on iPad similar to Desktop but AOV higher which is in our opinion just due to the demographic of customers. Mobile is a moving feast at the moment dependent how you cut the data but as a rule our conversion rate is somewhere between 50%-75% of our Desktop rate.

almost 5 years ago

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Lee Brown

This merely reflects the fact that people still spend more time (randomly) surfing on PCs. There is no intrinsic reason why the Ipad would perform the best. It merely reflects the fact that its within arm's reach when you think of buying something. I also reject the notion that the Ipad is easier to use the mobile phones. I have Samsung Galaxy II and with web or apps its just as easy (if not easier with flash enabled) to use. Both mobile devices are more likely to be used for transactions rather than general surfing. Yes retailers should be mobile phone enabled, of course they should but the main event is still the normal website on a PC.

almost 5 years ago

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Gareth Rees

It's always nice to see some analysis but clearly the findings are fundamentally flawed given the bias of the data.

To make any proper conclusions incentivised traffic would need to be split out at the very least, but including a much greater amount of different online traffic sources would be much more insightful.

almost 5 years ago

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Mark Thompson, MD at Printdesigns Limited

I would agree that the ipad purchaser is more likely to be buying on impulse and therefore less price dependent than the desktop shopper who would probably be performing more comparison.

As good as the ipad is, as a browser is is more cumbersome than a desktop/conventional computer.

almost 5 years ago

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Luis Pires

The data makes perfect sense to me. In the consumer durables industry, we're experiencing a new buying pattern: online research - store visit - in-store price shopping, hence, the higher conversion for mobile devices.
One key characteristic of this new buy pattern is the fact that the mobile consumers are very much driven by the 'deal of the day' and other calls for action.
I can't quite figure out the higher AOV for iPad vs. non-mobile. One theory would be to assume that individuals are replacing the traditional computer for most online purchases.

almost 5 years ago

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Steve Evans

Not sure what you mean by 'incentivised sales'? Are the people buying aware of some sort of incentive to complete the task?

Anyway, I think we'll see tablets grow their conversion rate to overtake desktop in all ecommerce sales eventually.

Users tend to shop around on desktop, at the office or at home The iPad isn't a 'shop around' device so much, rather users are more task focused including where they want to buy from.

In a study I did for a large ecommerce client recently we found that there is a large amount of users who find the store they want to use while at work, college etc, on laptop or desktop, then go home and look at it with partners and buy on tablet.

This study was for a large shoe retailer, who's website happened to work very well on a tablet.

The exact same pattern (shop at the office, buy at home (more often than not (and growing) on tablet) can be seen in the online travel sector. The sad thing here is that so many online travel sites (particularly tour operators) don't work well on tablets at all (particularly the search form and calendar inputs). They will suffer as this trend continues unless they get their UX sorted for tablet users.

Desktops are becoming the mall, laptops the changing room, tablets and mobile the till (or something like that)...

almost 5 years ago

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Simon Cahill

Pretty obvious that mobile device "purchasers" are going to have a higher conversion rate. The fact the audience gets how the internet works, also more likely to trust less well known suppliers as long as the right trust symbols are there.

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Steve - Some of the sales may have come via voucher code sites, or customers may have had an email offering discounts, and other such incentives.

almost 5 years ago

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Anon Guy

I'm going to post this as "Anon" because obviously commercial conversion rates are not something most people share so I'm not going to be entirely specific but I find that the big site I work as part of a team on (£50m turnover PA) has an iPad conversion rate of less than half that of "desktop".

I'm sure figures vary wildly depending on product, site design and layout etc though but based on what I work with, I can't say the figures are anything other than interesting case for the site sharing them and not a general picture of the industry or iPad overall.

almost 5 years ago

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Mark Thompson, MD at Printdesigns Limited

I'm really surprised to hear of the low ipad conversion rate from Anon above.

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Anon Guy It would be interesting to know more about the kind of site you work on - does it work well on iPad? Sector, target audience etc.

almost 5 years ago

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AC

I find that iPad conversion rates are 2/3 that of desktop. I work in online retail. I find other mobile is less than half the desktop conversion rate. I find AOV's are higher with iPad, and that, as above commenters, I put squarely at the fact of higher iPad user incomes than the average.

Interesting debate but one that should be conducted within the broader landscape of personalisation and "one-to-one" marketing and on-site conversations. As one would if one owned a shop and had regular customers.

almost 5 years ago

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John Aylott, Director at Fourleaf Ltd

Personally I'm convinced that the success of iPads here lies with the fact that the time it takes between lifting it up and being online is just a few seconds.

If you want to make a purchase (of around £60) then it's perfect. You get a reasonable user experience and can complete the transaction very quickly. With a laptop or desktop you need to start it up, login, wait for it to connect to your WiFi etc. All of that takes minutes. So if you're at home, by the time you're ready to browse on a desktop you've already made the transaction on an iPad.

The proof of this is in sectors such as travel (just over 1%). You're making a bigger purchase which you don't mind spending considered time over and therefore waiting for the desktop to get up and running is far less of a factor.

almost 5 years ago

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Tom Smith

Great article. Would be interesting to see this broken down by affiliate type.

I've done quite a bit of tablet insight for clients, and noticed that the evenings, particularly between 7pm and 10pm, yield the top conversion rates. Not a huge surprise, but nice to have confirmation through data.

My cynical side can't help thinking that there are a lot of affiliates bidding on brand terms for users of tablets in the evenings.
They get the benefit of the best traffic, brand exposure through TV ads, and the chances of being caught by the merchant are greatly reduced.

almost 5 years ago

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Craig Sullivan

Well - I'm going to weigh in here because I'm sitting on 18 months of data here for mobile.

I can tell you quite honestly - that it all depends on how you do the redirection of the iPad, which 'site' version or 'experience' you redirect it to, and how well crafted that experience is. It also depends a great deal on how much testing you've put into the 'tablet' journey.

The big mistake people make here though is to concentrate on the conversion rates, rather than the volumes. For most of our countries, the iPad represents only 1-2.5% of our audience - whereas other mobile devices can be driving up to 23/24% of traffic.

On our data, we get highest conversion on iPad but mainly because we have a specifically crafted experience for them, on the desktop site. On our mobile optimised site, iPhone is highest converting, then Blackberry then Android.

PLEASE look at your traffic figures and mix of traffic using something like www.bango.com (I mention this in the optimisation guide). If you have high tablet traffic arriving, looking for a good experience, then it's a great opportunity you are sitting on.

If you have a lousy mobile site, don't think that making a cool iPad experience will give you a better conversion lift - especially if your traffic from other devices is higher. For me, it's all down to the traffic figures, how much improvement you can make to the experience and the conversion rate you might attain.

Conversion rates will be very variable for people reading this, primarily because their approach to the 'tablet' experience varies so widely - in performance, usability, compatibility and how it takes advantage of device features. It's pretty hard to make specific claims like 'Tablet is higher converting' because I've seen plenty of evidence either way.

I hope my explanation of looking for the *opportunity* here, rather than the focusing on the device, is of some use!

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Craig,

Thanks for weighing in;)

Affiliate Window provided a lot of data, most of which didn't make it into the article.

To take August as an example, iPads accounted for 1.75% of all sales (1.57m in total) and mobile for 4.9%.

In the same month, iPads accounted for 0.9% of all traffic, and mobile 3.34%. Total traffic was 81.9m.

Backs up your point about the traffic.

While the percentages are small now, it will be interesting to see how quickly this grows, and whether it follows a similar pattern to that of mobile over the last couple of years.

almost 5 years ago

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Alex Mearns

I believe an important point in this article may be:

"The stats don't cover in-app purchases, except in cases where the customer is taken out of the app to complete the transaction on a website."

Depending on what stage of completing the transaction this covers this portion of traffic could potentially have a very high conversation rate, especially if it was only payment processing as the customer has already completed their journey.

Therefore depending on how much traffic is covered by this in the report, this could greatly skew the results.

I do however agree with previous assessments that iPad users in general are likely to be from higher income family's with greater disposable income.

almost 5 years ago

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Ash

What is the % of ipad traffic/visits in retail (fashion)? does anyone know?

thanks

over 4 years ago

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