Monday, April 30, 2012

Tablets: the opportunity for marketers

The tablet market was virtually non-existent two years ago, but all that changed with the launch of the iPad. 
Since then, Apple has sold more than 55m iPads, and with other manufacturers launching their own tablet PCs, this means that a significant proportion of users are accessing the internet via tablet devices. 
For marketers and online retailers, the tablet user represents an interesting opportunity. This is a target market that generally has more disposable income, and often has different usage patterns to mobile or desktop consumers. 
Stats suggest that tablet users convert well, and in some cases have a higher average order value. 
I’ll look at the key trends in the tablet market, how people use these devices, what publishers and retailers can do to make their websites more usable for tablets, and we’ll look at brands that have adapted well to the iPad and other tablets. 

Tablets and conversion rates

One trend that has been emerging is that tablets, and the iPad in particular, are delivering conversion rates that are closer to desktop than mobile, and higher in some cases. In addition, average order values tend to be relatively high. 
Of course, this will vary between sectors and between different types of retailer, but the stats do make sense. 
Though the iPad and other tablets deliver a very good user experience, it’s not the device itself that is behind these strong conversion rates and average order values. 
The major factor at play here is the demographic that buys and uses relatively expensive tablet devices. They tend to be a higher income, and therefore less price-sensitive group. This effect may become diluted with as cheaper tablets come to market, but it is significant for the time being. 
In addition, the usage habits of tablet owners, often in lean-back mode during leisure time, lend themselves to casual buying and browsing. 
There are a number of stats on e-commerce and the iPad in particular which show the potential value of the tablet for retailers. 
According to stats from Affiliate Window, taken from 81.9m visits to merchants and 1.57m sales, the average conversion rate for iPads was 3.82% in August, compared to 1.9% for desktop (i.e. non-mobile).
As far as average order values are concerned, the iPad is king, with an AOV of £69.94, compared to £65 for desktop (i.e. non-mobile). 
The iPhone (£48.34) does a little better than Android (£43.76), while Blackberry and other devices are way behind, a reflection of the relative user experience and ease of purchase on the different devices. 
It’s important to remember that the volume of sales via iPads, though growing, is still a small percentage of total online sales. For example, Affiliate Window’s stats show that, of the 1.57m sales generated by affiliates in August, just 27,551 were via iPad, which equates to 1.75%. 
Stats from eBay, quoted in our M-commerce Innovation Briefing, echo this trend, with the company stating thattablet users spend 50% more than PC users. 
Data from US e-commerce technology company Monetate, whose clients include several Internet Retailer 500 firms, found that, of website visits from Thanksgiving to ‘Cyber Monday’ 2012, tablets accounted for 4.68%, up from 1.06% in 2010. 
Conversion rates from tablets were 4.95% on average, compared with 5.39% for desktop, and 2.32% for mobile.   
Of course, conversion rates and average order values aren’t everything, and retailers need to consider the percentage of traffic and sales from tablet users. 

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