Tablets drive more e-commerce traffic than smartphones

6.52% of traffic to e-commerce sites for Q1

Tablets are now driving more consumers to e-commerce sites than smartphones, with those users also more likely to make a purchase, according to a study by online marketing tech company Monetate. The report, which analysed more than 100 million online shopping experiences globally, found that in the first quarter tablets accounted for 6.52% of traffic to e-commerce sites, up 348% year on year and above smartphones’ 5.35%, despite tablets only having been around for little more than two years. Of that traffic, Monetate found that on tablets 3.23% of visits converted into purchases, well ahead of smartphones at 1.39%. The figures serve to highlight the growing role of tablets in the e-commerce market, with many consumers using them more like PCs to browse and make purchases, rather than as mobile devices, which are typically used on the go.

Tablets are at an inflection point, where they are coming into their own as a primary internet portal,” says Monetate chief marketing officer Kurt Heinemann. “It’s only going to grow at this point.”

Heinemann says he expects tablet traffic to e-commerce sites to hit double digits by the end of the year, eating into PC’s share of the market. Traditionally PCs have accounted for almost all traffic to e-commerce sites, but the rising popularity of tablets and smartphones has led its dominance of the market to decline. PCs made up 88% of referral traffic in Q1, down four percentage points on the prior quarter. However, PCs continue to lead in terms of conversions, with 3.51% of visits resulting in a purchase.

The figures suggest that tablet users are much more like desktop visitors than smartphone users. Previous research by InMobi shows that rather than being used on the move, tablets are typically used in the home at evenings and weekends when users are relaxing on the sofa or in front of the TV. This means they are more likely to be used when consumers are planning to buy something, rather than when they are out and about and looking to compare prices. The larger screen size also encourages browsing and shopping. Monetate suggests that tablets could perform even better if retailers stopped lumping smartphones and tablets into the same ‘mobile’ category and started tailoring their websites to different use cases and shopping habits.

Monetate’s study also looked at the effect of social commerce. Overall, the firm found that traffic from social networks was up 77% year on year, with Facebook accounting for 60% of those visits. In another sign of its increasing popularity, Pinterest has come from nowhere to take a 26.48% share of social visits, followed by Twitter with 8.63%, StumbleUpon at 5.23% and LinkedIn with 0.07%. However, social is still doing poorly in terms of conversions, with Monetate estimating that around half of visitors leave without visiting any other page on the site and just 0.5% actually buy something. In comparison, search traffic only bounces around a quarter of the time and has a conversion rate of 2.44%.

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