May 14, 2012, 1:25 PM

Retailers reap more profit from mobile shoppers

But results vary widely among merchants, a new study finds.

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Mobile shoppers make a purchase 59% more often than desktop PC shoppers and over a two-year cycle will bring in 32% more profit, according to a new study by Custora Inc., a web and mobile analytics firm that specializes in retail.

Custora examined data from five of its clients with annual sales ranging from $50 million to $150 million. Clients included retailers in housewares, daily deals and digital goods. Data on a total of 8.2 million customers were examined, the firm reports. All five retailers have m-commerce web sites and mobile apps.

Smartphone and tablet customers are 18% more likely than desktop shoppers to buy on the weekends, the study finds. But the order size during the entire week of the average mobile customer is 12% smaller.

Looking at mobile sales over the course of an average week, the proportion of mobile sales increases 60% on weekends. Monday through Friday, mobile sales as a percentage of overall web sales averaged 15%, the study finds. On the weekend that figure jumped to 24%.

When the data is examined retailer by retailer, there are stark differences. Custora compared three metrics for three retailers and found  diverse results.

A Custora housewares merchant client can expect 97% more profit from mobile customers than from desktop customers over the course of a two-year cycle, or lifetime value, the study finds. Mobile customers of housewares order 105% more often than desktop shoppers and their average order size is 13% greater. A daily deal retailer client can expect 10% less profit from mobile customers, who order 12% more often than desktop shoppers and have an average order size 22% lower. And a digital goods merchant client can expect 38% more profit from mobile shoppers, who order 66% more often and have an average order size 10% lower.

“We all know mobile commerce is growing, but there’s no easy way to categorize mobile customers—they behave differently for every retailer,” says Corey Pierson, co-founder and CEO of Custora. “To develop a mobile strategy, it’s critical to understand what mobile means for your specific customers.”

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