May 18, 2011, 10:44 AM

Tablet owners make more online purchases than smartphone owners

They also say the shopping experience is better, The E-tailing Group finds.

Lead Photo

More consumers make purchases on tablets than they do on smartphones, a survey finds.

Shoppers browsing a mobile commerce site on a tablet, such as an iPad, are more likely to make a purchase than those shopping via a smartphone, finds new research from The E-tailing Group Inc.

Of the 996 consumers surveyed online in the E-tailing Group/Coffee Table Mindset of a Mobile Shopper Survey, 68% of tablet owners say they used the devices to make a purchase compared with 48% of smartphone owners. Of those tablet owners, 25% of made at least six purchases in the six months prior to the February survey versus 16% of smartphone owners.

More tablet owners also made at least one purchase in the survey period. Of tablet owners, only 22% say they did not make a purchase, compared with 36% of smartphone owners.

Consumers may shop more on tablets than on smartphones because the experience is “more visually engaging with unparalleled convenience,” says Lauren Freedman, e-Tailing president.

In the survey, 88% of respondents rate their tablet shopping experience as somewhat to very satisfactory, compared with 73% of those using smartphones.

That difference in satisfaction suggests that merchants need to understand what consumers expect of the devices, Freedman says.

For example, the top three smartphone purchases were books and magazine, made by 37% of the respondents; tickets, 31%; and clothing and accessories, 26%.

While books and magazines also were the most popular purchased by tablet owners, made by 45%, clothing and accessories was the second most popular, at 37%, followed by digital books at 30%.

“The tablet offers a unique opportunity to sell to a highly qualified target audience,” Freedman says. Tablets can be a boon to catalogers and retailers who want to offer a highly visual site or mobile app, she notes. That is exactly what Restoration Hardware did. Its new iPad app includes all 588 pages of the furnishing retailer’s current catalog, enabling users to click on a product image to get more information and complete a purchase.

While one retailer may have success with a tablet, another’s mobile store may be better suited to a smartphone, Freedman says. “It comes down to understanding what the device is and using it accordingly,” she says. Retailers must understand how their customers like to shop before crafting a mobile strategy, Freedman says. 


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