January 9, 2013, 12:15 PM

Mobile orders are more valuable than desktop orders for PFSweb clients

Mobile orders are no longer smaller than those placed via computers.

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During the holiday seasons preceding 2012, orders placed on smartphones and tablets at the 70 clients of e-commerce services provider PFSweb Inc.were smaller—in both dollars and number of products—than orders placed on desktop computers. 2012 marked a complete reversal of this trend.

The average order value for orders placed on mobile devices at the 70 brands—mostly apparel and consumer packaged goods—was $110 between Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2012, Nov. 23-26, PFSweb reports. The average order value for orders placed on desktop computers was $90. What’s more, mobile orders on average contained more products per order.

“You would have expected orders larger and more complex to come primarily in a desktop entry not on smartphones or tablet devices, but this holiday season we saw larger average order value and more units per order on mobile,” says Mark Layton, CEO of PFSweb. “This can only be attributed to consumers becoming much more comfortable using their devices to shop, and to super-users of smartphones and tablets who are transferring things they used to do on a desktop computer to smartphones and tablets.”

What makes the reversal even more interesting is that the vast majority of PFSweb’s brand clients do not have mobile commerce sites or apps. Only a handful have m-commerce sites for smartphones or responsive web design sites, which tailor web site content to fit the screen of the device requesting the site, regardless of size or shape. So that means the vast majority of mobile orders were placed on tablets and smartphones on the full e-commerce site, which can be tricky to maneuver on a smartphone.

And there were more smartphone shoppers than tablet shoppers over the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend for PFSweb clients, which include Kate Spade, Sephora USA Inc., Lego Brand Retail Inc., Kiehl’s, Lucky Brand and Proctor & Gamble. 18% of all visits to the 70 brands’ sites that weekend were on smartphones, up 16% compared to a typical week, PFSweb reports. 11% of all visits were on tablets, up 15% compared to a typical week. Year-over-year growth in smartphone traffic, orders and engagement outpaced tablet growth, the company says, though declines to reveal further statistics.

There is a major shift occurring in web traffic—the future is mobile, Layton says. Thanksgiving weekend 2012 for the 70 clients saw 29% of total traffic stemming from mobile devices; for the same weekend in 2013, mobile traffic will likely hit 40%, he adds.

“During the next year or so many of the e-commerce platform providers will be offering responsive design and more retailers will be offering responsive sites, and that will allow shoppers to have access to more sites in a very usable format on these smaller devices,” Layton says. “You combine this with the momentum we’re seeing in more and more consumers becoming more comfortable with using mobile devices and you will see an increase in the mix over the next several years in the use of iPads and smartphones for not only browsing but placing orders.”

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