For Mobile Spending, Size Matters

By Jeffrey Green (@epaymentsguy

It probably should not have come as a surprise, but folks tend to facilitate spending using tablets more often when shopping with mobile devices. However, they browse for products more often with their smartphones than with tablets, illustrating the importance of designing marketing around multichannel efforts when supporting online commerce.

Last week, IBM released data that suggested tablets drove 19.4 percent of overall online sales on Christmas Day, compared with just 9.3 percent for smartphones. Smartphones, however, drove 28.5 percent of overall online browsing, compared with 18.1 percent for tablets

Anyone who has sat on a commuter train and seen the percentage of riders staring at their smartphones can understand why browsing is more popular on the smaller mobile devices. There’s just not that many people who browse, at least in public, with tablets, perhaps because many tablets aren’t tied to cellular data plans, making their online access less portable. But the tiny screens on phones make it more difficult to key in the necessary information to make the order, which is where the larger screens on tablets help, thus making them the primary mobile driver of online sales, once the devices are within Wi-Fi range, such as in a home or office.

Efforts to increase the use of tokens and one-click checkout services for online sales should help to simplify the checkout process, especially for smartphone users. PYMNTS.com detailed how tokens will play a bigger role in both securing mobile online checkout and simplifying the process in a recent report “A Token for Your Account: Security Solutions for Digital Commerce.” 

IBM based its findings on the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, a real-time, cloud-based digital analytics platform that tracks millions of transactions and analyzes terabytes of raw data from approximately 800 retail sites nationwide.

Based on IBM’s findings, it’s no wonder everyone’s keeping a close eye on Apple’s every move when it comes to what it might do in the payments space, especially for merchants. As a percentage of total online sales, Apple’s iOS operating system, at 23 percent, was more than five times higher than the 4.6 percent for Google’s Android. On average, iOS users spent $93.94 per order, nearly twice the $48.10 average for Android users. Apple’s iOS also led as a component of overall traffic with 32.6 percent versus 14.8 percent for Android.

Forget about Google Android versus Apple phone- and tablet-sales comparisons. It’s what the iPhone and iPad users do with their devices that counts, and for merchants and others in the payments industry, Apple’s products are what drive sales, much more so than do Google’s device users.

IBM’s data also illustrated differences in payment behaviors within different social media. Shoppers referred from Facebook averaged $72.01 per order, versus $86.83 from Pinterest referrals. However, Facebook referrals converted sales at nearly four times the rate of Pinterest referrals, suggesting, IBM said, stronger confidence in network recommendations.

In a separate research report released December 23, comScore’s Media Metrix, Google in October was found to be the top smartphone search engine, reaching 88 percent of all smartphone users. By comparison, Yahoo finished third with a reach of 77.9 percent.  

Yahoo, however, in November topped the overall number of unique online visitors among U.S. desktop computer uses, drawing some 224.5 million unique visitors in November compared with Google’s 194.6 million, according to a separate comScore report.  

For more of PYMNTS Senior Analyst Jeff Green’s commentary, including new reports on biometrics and P2P lending, click here.

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