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IBM Survey Reveals Smartphones Drove Online Holiday Traffic

IBM Survey Reveals Smartphones Drove Online Holiday Traffic
December 27, 2013 11:33AM

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Smartphones drove 28.5 percent of all online holiday traffic compared to tablets at 18.1 percent, making it the browsing device of choice, according to IBM. And when it comes to making the sale, IBM said tablets drove 19.4 percent of all holiday online sales. That’s more than twice that of smartphones, which accounted for 9.3 percent.

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While Amazon is grabbing headlines with revelations that its Cyber Monday orders rose 39 percent in 2013 and it otherwise set records for the holiday shopping season, IBM is focusing on mobile and social shopping.

The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark offers stats upon stats about Android, iOS, Facebook and other mobile shopping factors. The big picture: Overall Christmas Day online sales were up 16.5 percent over the same period last year.

“Mobile traffic was the highest we've seen over this holiday season, accounting for 48 percent of all online traffic, up 28.3 percent compared to the same period last year,” IBM reports. “Mobile sales also remained strong, approaching 29 percent of all online sales, up 40 percent over 2012.”

iOS Dominates

Meanwhile, smartphones drove 28.5 percent of all online traffic compared to tablets at 18.1 percent, making it the browsing device of choice, according to Big Blue. And when it comes to making the sale, the company reported that tablets drove 19.4 percent of all online sales. That’s more than twice that of smartphones, which accounted for 9.3 percent. Tablet users also averaged $95.61 per order, versus smartphone users, who averaged $85.11 per order.

As a percentage of total online sales, IBM reports that iOS was more than five times higher than Android, driving 23 percent versus 4.6 percent for Android. On average, iOS users spent $93.94 per order. That’s nearly twice that of Android users, who spent $48.10 per order. iOS also led as a component of overall traffic with 32.6 percent vs. 14.8 percent for Android.

We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his thoughts on the report. He told us Apple products do tend to sell for higher prices than most Android-based devices do and the figures may simply reflect the generally higher income brackets of Apple customers.

“It would be sort of interesting to know whether or not these shopping excursion were being driven through a basic browser or if they were actually being enabled by a retail app,” King said. “That didn’t shake out in this report.”

Social Shopping

Looking for metrics on social influence? The battle there was seemingly between Facebook and Pinterest. Shoppers referred from Facebook averaged $72.01 per order, versus Pinterest referrals, which drove $86.83 per order. However, IBM reported, Facebook referrals converted sales at nearly four times the rate of Pinterest referrals, perhaps indicating stronger confidence in network recommendations.

“The fact that Pinterest referrals were driving notably higher order values than [Facebook] is noteworthy,” King said, pointing to how much attention Facebook has garnered for its efforts to crack the mobile advertising market and define its value.

“The fact that Facebook’s sales conversion were about four times Pitnerest’s speaks to the social media giant’s favor,” he said. “But the fact that a social network like Pinterest that doesn’t get much attention relative to mobile advertising can drive a significantly higher per transaction value than a company that lives and dies on its ad revenues is telling.”

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