January 31, 2013, 3:44 PM

Consumers are getting more comfortable shopping on tablets

CoffeeTable’s Couch Commerce Index was up 11% in Q4 2012.

Lead Photo

Spring 2013 catalogs are highlighted in the CoffeeTable iPad app.

Commerce conducted on tablets grew in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the Couch Commerce Index, a quarterly measurement from CoffeeTable, a catalog aggregator app for the iPad, iPad mini and the iPhone. Shopping on tablets has increased 11% from Q3 2012 to Q4 2012 and grown 37% since Q4 2011, CoffeeTable says. The index jumped 14 points from 123 in Q3 2012 to 137 in Q4 2012, the largest quarter-to-quarter jump since the index’s inception. The index began with a base of 100 in Q4 2011.

This increase is due to heavy shopper interaction with tablets during the holiday shopping months, brought on by targeted holiday initiatives by retailers and increasing comfort with shopping on tablets, CoffeeTable says. With the launch of a loyalty program in December, CoffeeTable registered three times previous engagement levels within the app, it says.

The Couch Commerce Index is a measure of the past quarter’s consumer “couch commerce” confidence, using Q4 2011 as the index benchmark. Couch commerce is defined as the shopping activity that consumers engage in through tablet devices (mobile devices greater than five inches in screen size), which often takes place at home on the couch. The index is calculated using indicators of tablet commerce that include change in overall economic consumer confidence as measured by the U.S. Consumer Confidence Index issued by research firm The Conference Board, change in tablet penetration as measured by research firm IDC and other analyst forecasts, and change in shopper engagement and conversion rates via the CoffeeTable app.

The average CoffeeTable conversion rate for all 200 retailers in the app for the fourth quarter was 5%, based on transactions across all channels, including those measured directly in the CoffeeTable app as well as those the tablet app influenced in-store, online and by phone, CoffeeTable says. This is similar to how retailers typically track the impact of paper catalogs, as many measure catalog marketing spend return on investment by examining transactions across all channels through internal analytics programs that match back purchases to the influence of catalogs, CoffeeTable says. CoffeeTable took the average conversion rate across channels from those retailers and applied the same rate as an estimate to the remaining retailers.

In December, the average CoffeeTable user viewed 192 catalog pages, CoffeeTable reports. In Q4 the average ticket on transactions in the CoffeeTable app was $77, down from Q3 when it was $99, the company says. The number of orders tripled in the same period. “People make fewer purchases at higher values for themselves in Q3 and spend less on the items for others when they are buying holiday gifts in Q4,” a company spokeswoman says. “This is borne out already in Q1 2013, as average order value has returned to pre-Q4 levels.”

According to findings by the Pew Research Center’s latest Internet & American Life Survey, 25% of U.S. consumers own a tablet device, up from 10% in late 2011. Additionally, tablet owners are more than twice as likely to use their device for shopping as smartphone owners, according to new survey results from Adobe.

“With the Couch Commerce Index continually increasing each quarter, it is evident that more shoppers are turning to their mobile devices to fulfill their shopping needs and discover new products,” says CoffeeTable CEO Ben Choi. “In this last year, CoffeeTable has been able to keep up with the rising consumer demand by expanding our retail brands from 27 to 200. We’ve added personalization features and created a loyalty program to give CoffeeTable users the best mobile shopping experience without having to leave home.”

CoffeeTable retailers include Nordstrom Inc., L.L. Bean Inc., Sephora USA Inc., Express LLC, Crate and Barrel, dELiA’s, West Elm, Eddie Bauer LLC, Harry & David Holdings Inc., and Lands’ End. CoffeeTable is financially backed by RR Donnelley, a printing company that now provides digital as well as physical publications and also provides marketing services.

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