If an online shopper is using an iPad to browse retail sites, that shopper is likely to make more purchases and spend more money than someone using an Android device or a PC to shop online.
"The iPad user is converting -- meaning they're buying something -- almost twice as frequently as other mobile users," says John Squire, chief strategy officer at IBM Coremetrics. "Not only do they buy more frequently than other mobile users (iPhone and Android users) when they're in an online store, but they also buy more than the average PC shopper or average mobile shopper."
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This holiday season, the number of mobile device-wielding shoppers is expected to climb dramatically compared to a year ago.
Record numbers of consumers are already shifting their shopping from PCs to mobile devices, IBM says. In October, nearly 11% of online shoppers used a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, up from 4.2% in October 2010 and less than 1% in the 2009 holiday shopping season. This month, 15% of people in the U.S. who log onto a retailer's Web site are expected to do so through a mobile device, IBM predicts.
In terms of money spent, IBM reports that mobile sales as a percentage of total online shopping sales continue to increase, reaching a high of 9.6% in October, up from 3.4% in October 2010.
To cater to mobile shoppers, retailers need to make sure their sites are geared for the kind of quick, targeted shopping these buyers want to conduct. "They know what they're looking for, they're spending less time just browsing, they want to get directly to the relevant products and promotions and get out of the site," Squire says.
Compared to online shoppers using PCs, mobile shoppers have a higher bounce rate, Squire says. (Bounce rate is a measure of how frequently consumers come to a site and leave after only one page view.) "As a retailer, you really have to focus on ensuring you have a relevant, hyper-personalized page when a mobile user comes to your site," he says.
Another shopping segment retailers are watching is social networking-driven buyers. These shoppers, who are referred to a site directly from a social network such as Facebook or Twitter, convert at a higher rate (9.2%) than the industry average for all online shoppers (5.5%). Consumers who click through from a social site represent only about 1% of traffic to retail sites today, but they're very attractive consumers, Squire says.
"They're not a big volume right now, but when they do come to a site, they shop and buy on a more frequent basis than everybody else."
In the big picture, it's shaping up to be a good year for online retail sales. Overall online shopping sales will grow 15% this month compared to online sales in November 2010, IBM forecasts. "It's definitely a healthy rate for online retail," Squire says.