Smartphone traffic to online merchants continues to grow, but tablet traffic remains more valuable!

As we had suspected smartphone traffic to online merchants continues to grow, but tablet traffic remains more valuable, according to the latest quarterly performance index from MarketLive, providing further support to the notion that smartphones are for research, tablets for purchases. The MarketLive study indicates that smartphones alone accounted for almost 1 in 4 visits to the tracked merchants during Q2 2014, up more than 50% from a year earlier. But despite being behind in traffic, tablets accounted for almost twice as much revenue as smartphones.

For the quarter, tablets comprised 12.7% of revenues, compared to 6.7% for smartphones. Even so, smartphones’ share of traffic and revenues grew at a faster rate than tablets.

The difference in revenue share is the result of better conversion rates and higher average order values on tablets. For the quarter, the subset of MarketLive sites (required to be active from January 1, 2013 or prior in order to measure same-site trends) measured for the report saw smartphone traffic convert at an average rate of 0.67%, well behind the rates for tablet (2.01%) and desktop (2.22%) traffic. (That order has also been found by Monetate, with tablet conversion rates closer to desktops than smartphones.) Average order values (AOVs) on smartphones ($98.73) also lagged comparable figures for both tablets ($112.05) and desktops ($118.20) by a considerable margin.

Other key performance indicators similarly favored tablets:

  • Average time on site: 3:46 tablets; 2:40 smartphones;
  • Add-to-cart rate: 11.5% tablets; 4.9% smartphones;
  • Cart abandonment rate: 77% tablets; 88% smartphones;
  • Checkout abandonment rate: 45% tablets; 69% smartphones;

It should of course be noted that the device with the greatest revenue potential remains the desktop, accounting for an outsized 80.6% of revenues in relation to its 60.6% share of traffic.

Separately, the data shows that paid search traffic continues to be more valuable than organic search traffic. During the second quarter, organic search delivered 31.4% share of traffic to the merchants, but accounted for a relatively smaller 27.1% share of revenues. By contrast, paid search comprised 16.2% of traffic, but a relatively larger 20.1% share of revenues. Notably, a leading 85% of retailers surveyed by and Forrester Research for their latest “State of Retailing Online” survey named paid search one of their most effective customer acquisition tactics.

About the Data: The data is based on a subset of MarektLive sites active from January 1, 2013 or prior. Data is collected from Google Analytics using last-click attribution.