June 24, 2010, 5:13 PM

Keeping an eye on the iPad

A new study finds conversion rates on the iPad are seven times higher than on other mobile devices.

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The iPad is a tablet PC, an e-reader, and apparently a shopping cart for many consumers as well. A new study by e-commerce technology vendor Shopatron finds conversion rates on Apple Inc.’s iPad are much higher than on other mobile devices—seven times higher.

Initial analysis of the data, collected since early March, indicates that average conversion rates for non-optimized retail sites on mobile devices, including the iPhone, Android, and iPod devices, average 0.37%. This rate sits significantly below PC conversion rates, Shopatron says.

The iPad, however, performed much better as an e-commerce platform than mobile phones. Data from Shopatron’s 800 retailers found the average iPad conversion rate was seven times that of other mobile devices. At least one retailer had an iPad conversion rate of 2%, according to Shopatron. And, for some merchants, the iPad conversion rate was as much as double the online conversion rate from personal computers.

Shopatron did not compare the conversion rate of consumers using iPads to access e-commerce sites to consumers using smartphones to access mobile sites because it is still finalizing the upgrade to its mobile platform. After the company releases its mobile upgrades next month it should be able to run the comparison, a spokesman says.

"One of the primary motivators for the research was understanding whether the iPad user needed a mobile view or would work well with a standard web view - which we believe is the case," the spokesman says.

Shoppers may be more inclined to place orders from the iPad than from their phone because the iPad provides a much richer shopping experience. Its larger screen size of 9.7 inches make shopping on an iPad similar to shopping on a PC, Shopatron says.

Some experts believe the iPad’s size and functionality puts it in a category somewhere between mobile and PC (what some might call a netbook) and, therefore, should not be deemed a mobile device.

Forrester Research Inc. analyst Sucharita Mulpuru believes iPad users are comfortable navigating normal web sites on the device. If that’s the case, the iPads could be expected to have higher conversion rates than smartphones. However, Mulpuru says while she has seen data to support the notion of higher conversion rates on iPads than other mobile devices, she says most of it has been anecdotal.

Shopatron says it will continue to track iPad statistics versus other mobile devices in order to learn about consumer behavior to help optimize mobile shopping for its customers.

Shopatron’s clients include Callaway Golf, Mizuno and Berkley Fishing.


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