According to researchers at Adobe,

Consumers who visit retail websites using tablet devices (“Tablet Visitors”) are more valuable online customers than those who visit websites using smartphones or traditional desktop/laptop computers.

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Based on its analysis of 16.2 billion visits to the websites of more than 150 retailers in 2011, Adobe Digital Marketing Insights found that Tablet Visitors spend over 50% more per purchase than visitors who use smartphones (“Smartphone Visitors”) and over 20% more than visitors who use desktop/laptop computers(“Traditional Visitors”).

Additionally, Adobe found that Tablet Visitors are three times more likely to make a purchase than Smartphone Visitors and nearly as likely to purchase as Traditional Visitors.

Other findings from the Adobe study include:

  • Tablet Visitors respond to promotions: Conversion rates and average order values on Black Friday and
    Cyber Monday rose above their 2011 Holiday and Calendar 2011 averages.
  • Tablet Visitors are rapidly growing in size. Although they generate a small portion of total website visits,
    their share of total visits increased from 1% to 4% in just 12 months.
  • Tablet Visitors appear to spend more because of their demographics, the nature of the tablet user
    experience, and the environment in which Tablet Visitors shop online.

These findings suggest that retailers can no longer afford a “one-size-fits-all” approach to mobile optimization because Tablet Visitors and Smartphone Visitors are distinct customer segments. Retailers should evaluate the opportunity that Tablet Visitors offer and develop strategies to better attract, convert and retain them.

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You can read the full report in PDF format.

Implications For Retailers

Adobe’s study indicates that Tablet Visitors spend more per purchase than other visitors. Like Smartphone Visitors, Tablet Visitors still account for a small percent of all site visits. However, the impact of Tablet Visitors is rapidly increasing. The OPA study cited above predicted that tablet usage will rise to 23% by early 2012.

Recognizing the impact of these findings may lead you to consider:

A “one-size-fits-all” approach to mobile-optimized sites is no longer effective. Tablet Visitors and Smartphone Visitors are distinct segments that do not share the same visit objectives or have equal value. Tablet Visitors are more likely to visit a retail site with the objective of making a purchase than are Smartphone Visitors. Each Tablet Visitor is four times as likely to purchase and spends over 50% more per purchase. In contrast, Smartphone Visitors may be more likely to visit a brick-and-mortar retail store after visiting a website and be more receptive to local store promotional offers because smartphones are more portable than tablets.

Delivering experiences optimized for Tablet Visitors should generate higher ROI. As tablet adoption increases, retailers should evaluate how to best provide engaging customer experiences to Tablet Visitors. Optimized websites and apps that leverage the unique user experience tablets enable, along with the environment in which Tablet Visitors shop, may encourage Tablet Visitors to spend even more than they do when visiting sites optimized solely for smartphones or traditional computers.

Tablet Visitors respond favorably to promotions. Given how Tablet Visitors responded to 2011 Holiday promotions, their relatively higher affluence and unique shopping behavior, retailers should design promotions and incentives that appeal more directly to Tablet Visitors and/or utilize the tablet user experience. Although Tablet Visitors will continue to use their devices to research and compare products and prices, they are very willing and able to buy using their tablets.