Increasing conversions on smartphones is notoriously difficult, with consumers often reverting to desktop or tablets to make a purchase.

This is highlighted by new data from Affiliate Window, which suggests that both traffic and sales through its network have increased in the past six months but conversions are down.

AW’s new white paper, M-Commerce: The Complete Picture, reveals the latest statistics from its affiliate network, as well as more general data on mobile commerce.

Here we look at some of the sales, traffic and conversion stats from AW’s own network.

Sales

In May almost 8% of sales on AW’s network come through mobile, up from 3.92% in the same period last year.

In real terms, this equates to more than 140,000 transactions compared to just over 60,000 last year.

Looking at the breakdown by device, the iPad accounts for 55% of all mobile sales through AW.

This tallies with what we already know about tablet conversion rates compared to smartphones, but it is still impressive considering that smartphone penetration is around 53% in the UK compared to just 5% for the iPad.

The iPhone accounts for the second largest proportion of sales (22%-29%), followed by Android (9.5%-13%) and Blackberry (3%-3.5%).

This shows that Apple’s devices are still the most important source of sales for e-tailers, although AW says it expects to see Android close the gap as the operating system becomes more common.

Traffic

Mobile traffic through AW’s network has more than doubled in the past six months from 3.5% of overall traffic to just under 11%.

Apple’s devices dominate here as well, with iPad and iPhone accounting for around 40% of traffic each.

In comparison, Android has accounted for between 14%-16% of mobile traffic each week while Blackberry and ‘other devices’ have both remained fairly constant at a 2.5% share of traffic.

Interestingly, traffic from iPad overtook iPhone in January, but the device has been driving more sales than iPhone since last August. This again highlights the fact that conversion rates are higher on iPad.

Conversion rates

Though sales and traffic have both increased on AW’s network, conversion rates have actually dropped slightly from a December high of 3.5% to 3% in May.

In April mobile conversions fell to just over 2.5%.

The white paper suggests this is down to advertisers failing to offer mobile optimised sites so users are put off making a purchase. This is a problem we highlighted in a recent blog post looking at the top 20 online retailers’ mobile checkouts.

Looking at AW’s data by device, desktop achieves the highest conversion rate closely followed by iPad.

Interestingly, Blackberry has the third highest conversion rate, although is it from a significantly smaller proportion of traffic.

Mobile optimisation

The benefits of a mobile optimised site in terms of sales and customer acquisition are well known, and AW’s white paper references to case studies that back this up.

Foot Asylum saw the split of sales coming through mobile devices increase from just under 1.5% to 14% within six months of launching a mobile optimised site. As a result, mobile revenue increased by 500% in the same period.

There is some evidence to suggest that average order values also increase with a mobile optimised site.

For one advertiser, AOVs on Android are 40% higher through the mobile optimised version of the site compared to visitors transacting through the full e-commerce version through a mobile device.

Similarly, basket values through the iPhone saw a 25% increase when compared to transactions through the full e-commerce version of the site.

While these are obviously individual cases, they do add to the weight of evidence which shows that having a mobile optimised site is vital for converting mobile traffic.