April 23, 2014, 3:25 PM

Internet Retailer debuts exclusive 5,500-retailer mobile commerce index

Today, the iPhone is the ultimate mobile shopping device: 69.5% of mobile sales occur on smartphones while 30.5% occur on tablets, and 61.4% of mobile sales occur on Apple iOS devices while 38.6% occur on Android mobile devices, according to the new Shopgate Mobile Commerce Index, which measured March 2014 mobile activities on vendor Shopgate’s 5,500 retailer clients’ mobile sites and apps worldwide.

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Retailers take note: iPhone users are tops when it comes to mobile commerce. In March 2014, 69.5% of mobile sales occurred on smartphones while 30.5% occurred on tablets, and 61.4% of mobile sales occurred on Apple iOS devices while 38.6% occurred on Android mobile devices, according to the new Shopgate Mobile Commerce Index. The index looks monthly at mobile commerce platform provider Shopgate Inc.’s 5,500 retailer clients worldwide. Shopgate builds m-commerce sites for smartphones, tablet-optimized shopping sites, and smartphone and tablet m-commerce apps, and is measuring m-commerce activity at its thousands of clients exclusively for Internet Retailer.

80.0% of mobile traffic in March stemmed from smartphones while 20.0% came from tablets, the index says.

Traffic to retailers from smartphones and tablets was heaviest between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. local time, the Shopgate index finds. Traffic for both devices peaked between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. The fact that both devices had the same usage time patterns shows what more retailers are coming to learn, that consumers use both smartphones and tablets, not just tablets, to shop in the home. 95% of tablet shoppers and 72% of smartphone shoppers who make a purchase with their mobile device do so in the home, finds a new study from research giant Nielsen Co. That data lines up with the Shopgate data that shows so much mobile commerce activity occurring in the evening.

“When we founded the company in 2009, we were excited about the idea of people being able to buy products outdoors—on their way to work or school, and in their leisure time,” says Andrea Anderheggen, founder and CEO of Shopgate. “However, we quickly discovered that peak times for mobile commerce are actually between 7 and 9 in the night, when most people are at home. The main conclusion for us was that mobile is not only and not mainly about being able to buy outdoors. Mobile gains more and more importance as an alternative to the PC at home. Clearly, B2C e-commerce is increasingly shifting to mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets, at home.”

Anderheggen cites three primary reasons for why Apple Inc.’s mobile devices dominate for both traffic and sales mobile devices running on Google Inc.’s Android operating system .

“At its origin and for some time, Apple’s iPhone was only available with flat-rate wireless data packages, while many Android devices have been sold based on data packages per gigabyte,” Anderheggen explains. “A flat rate always meant users didn’t care at all how much time they spent online on their mobile devices because they didn’t have to pay any additional costs for overage. So Apple users come from that background.”

More important, though, is the fact that Apple devices are generally more expensive than Android devices and are used by consumers with higher annual household incomes, Anderheggen says.

“And the third reason is apps,” he says. “While every iPhone/iPad user is used to apps and Apple’s App Store, we see that apps on Android phones are used less.” He says Android, with the multiple versions of the platform available, is more fragmented than Apple’s single iOS. “This makes it much harder for developers to actually create beautiful apps that work well on all the varied devices,” he says.

Apps, however, are very important in retailers’ mobile strategies today, Anderheggen contends.

“Apps fundamentally increase customer lifetime value: Once a customer installs an app, we measured an average increase of 47% in mobile sales for these customers,” he says. The reason is simple, he says. Retailers gets much more visibility being part of the iPhone/iPad home screen, and features like push notifications, coupons or daily deals help to increase app usage rates. “When you add this effect of apps and combine it with the higher focus by Apple on beautiful apps and the App Store, it’s pretty clear that this may be considered a fundamental advantage of Apple devices over Android devices, despite the growing market share of Android,” he says.

Smartphones running Android account for about 52% of the smartphone market while iPhones account for about 41%, according to comScore Inc.

The Shopgate index also tallies monthly mobile sales by retailer product category. 10.5% of March 2014 mobile commerce sales generated by Shopgate’s 5,500 retailer clients were apparel and accessories, the index says. Other high-performing categories include pet goods (7.6%), computers and electronics (7.4%), sporting goods (7.4%), groceries (5.1%), cosmetics and fragrances (4.2%), drugstore (3.6%), and furniture and décor (3.1%).

“With fashion and furniture, we mainly see that tablets are very strong,” Anderheggen says, citing how iPad devices display pictures at a high resolution.  “In these industries pictures are a very strong conversion driver.”

When it comes to computers and electronics, the case for mobile is different, Anderheggen says.

“32% of all mobile traffic in this category comes from a Google product search,” he says. “The main reason here is price comparison: Consumers search a product to compare offers at bricks-and-mortar stores and online shops. They end up on the mobile product detail page of an electronics retailer. For this use case, mobile commerce web sites and a data-driven focus on conversion rate is very important.”

Click here then click on Shopgate Mobile Commerce Index, Part 1, to view this month’s data.

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