Smartphones overtake tablets for online sales

Smartphones have topped tablets in online sales and traffic for the first time.

New research by, Forrester Research and Bizrate Insights reveals that smartphones accounted for 17% of online sales in 2015, and 14% of sales came from tablets. Retailers reported that sales from smartphones increased by 53% over the previous year, while sales from tablet devices grew by 32%.

The growing use of smartphones by consumers, a shift in investments by technology companies and continued optimisation strategies from retailers all played a part in smartphones overtaking tablets, according to the State of Retailing Online 2016 report.

“Retailers are now recognising that their customers may not need a bigger, more expansive shopping experience on mobile platforms — they need a consistent, relevant and user-friendly experience that will shape their online and in-store shopping behaviours,” said National Retail Federation senior vice president and executive director Vicki Cantrell. “Even with relatively small investments in their mobile initiatives, retailers are seeing tremendous growth in both sales that come from smartphones and the level of customer engagement from mobile across the brand.”

In 2016 many retailers are prioritising mobile initiatives and optimisation in an effort to drive greater mobile sales — particularly through smartphones. One-third of retailers surveyed plan to increase their smartphone investments by more than 20% this year, compared with only 22% investing similarly in tablets.

“Retailers are building their mobile platforms with strong customer engagement strategies in mind, allowing their shoppers to easily ‘click and buy’ or research in-store availability,” Cantrell explained. “For today’s consumer, this is all just a part of modern-day shopping; though for retailers, it’s a constant balance of where and how much to invest into the mobile experience and infrastructure.”

“It’s the age of the customer and retailers need to be wherever shoppers are when they’re browsing and buying,” added Forrester vice president and principal analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

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