The increase of mobile interaction and users embracing the mobile device as their daily communication mean is an interesting trend visible in many reports and benchmarks. The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark was published for the fourth year in a row and shows the US online shopping traffic data with a split between mobile and fixed online traffic. The report reveals a pattern of consumer behavior which is quite startling: people seem to prefer to shop using mobile devices.
In terms of sources of traffic, mobile devices (including tablets) have increased from about five percent of all online traffic to 40 percent the last four years. Last year the volume was 24% implying that sixteen points of share were gained in one year. If that is extrapolated to next year then more than half of all holiday shopping traffic in 2014 will be on mobile devices. Let’s put it in another perspective, next year less than half of all users will hire a PC to do their online shopping.
If this conversion from PC-based shopping to device-based shopping follows a logistic substitution curve than the conversion to devices will probably be 90% complete in another five years or by 2018 or 2019. Within the data available there is also a significant amount of detail beyond the mobile/non-mobile split in behavior. There is a distinction drawn between tablet and phone traffic and a further distinction between Android and iOS devices.
The pattern of slowing tablet growth is likely due to the slowing growth in iPad sales. This itself is due to the low amount of product launches that took place in 2012. The consequence is that iPad traffic contribution only increased by two percentage points, from 10% in 2012 to 12% in 2013. Compare this with the doubling of the previous year (from 5% to 10%).
Among phone users, both Android and iOS grew their contributions to traffic by roughly 100%. Android phone traffic increased from 4.2% of all traffic to 8.5% and iPhone traffic increased from 8.7% to 16.7%.
As far as phones are concerned, US iPhone users are about 2.5 times more likely to shop online than US Android phone users. The data is reliable: with the US population now over 65% penetrated with smartphones, these populations of users (totaling over 130 million) are vast and representative. As the technology is reaching deep into the late adopter segments the difference in behavior between iOS and Android usage is becoming easier to explain. The report eliminates quirks of demographics, income or other possible causes.
It may seem preposterous to suggest that a platform can affect shopping behavior but let’s remember that the PC, the subject of this article, is a platform in itself. The migration of usage away from the PC to alternatives can only be explained by the alternatives being superior at the particular job that needs doing. The argument is naturally extendable to each alternative individually.