Business Brains

Retail orders via tablet computers grow appreciably

Posting in Science

Data from Forrester Research and Shop.org shows that almost half of retailers are generating higher order values from shoppers using tablets than from their traditional e-commerce sites.

There is more evidence this week of the need for retail businesses -- or any company selling anything on the Internet -- to optimize their Web site for people visiting via tablet computers and other mobile devices.

Almost half of respondents to the 2012 Shop.org/Forrester Research "State of Retailing Survey" reported that their average order values generated via tablet computers are higher than sales coming in from their traditional Web site operations.

Obviously, the two operations are closely linked, but the data points to mobile marketing activities as one big reason for the fast rise in influence of tablet computers as a mobile shopping experience that is overtaking the influence of people sitting in front of their computers.

For example, the data show approximately 20 percent of the emails being sent out for an average campaign are now being opened on a mobile devices (either a smartphone or tablet).

Search is another huge factor related to use of mobile devices as a front-end for making retail purchases or for completing e-commerce transactions. Eight in 10 of the retailers surveyed said that search and email are the top top drivers of Web site traffic that explicitly comes from a smartphone or tablet.

QR codes, which allow individuals to scan a code on a product label for more information about what's within or to make a purchase, are also becoming more common. The "State of Retailing Online" survey showed that 75 percent of retailers are now using the technology (or other barcode scanning options) to market products both in their stores and in other forms of advertising and marketing.

The fact that many tablet users have their devices with them during other activities -- such as watching televisions -- probably also has an impact. A survey out in April 2012 by Nielsen suggested that 88 percent of tablet owners used it while watching television at least once during a 30-day window. Approximately 45 percent of the tablet owners used their devices in front of the television at least one daily.

Now, imagine these users browsing the Internet (or Facebook) during commercial breaks. The power of suggestion while people are watching television almost certainly must be a factor for the appreciable rise in shopping via tablet computer.

Notes Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru in a statement accompanying the research:

"Retailers have been apprehensive about committing to bigger mobile commerce and advertising budgets because consumer behavior and the device landscape are changing so quickly. eCommerce on desktops and laptops took time, too. But eventually, we expect that retailers will grow their mobile marketing budgets to address the fact that the mobile channel has unique aspects, like location-triggered messaging, that can be compelling ways for brands to connect with shoppers."

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure