Fast Company

Tablet Users Spend 50% More Per Purchase Than Smartphone Owners

Rapper Lil' Wayne once boasted that he's approved million-dollar deals from his iPhone. But a new report out from Adobe Digital Marketing Insights suggests the hip-hop star would be willing to spend significantly more if he owned an iPad.

According to the study, which Adobe released today, tablet users spend over 50% more per purchase at online retailers when compared with smartphone visitors, and 20% more when compared with traditional laptop and desktop visitors. Adobe analyzed roughly 16.2 billion online transactions from 150 top U.S. retailers in 2011, finding that the mobile market has quickly become a lucrative cornerstone of the e-commerce industry.

Tablet visitors to retail websites, the report concluded, are three times more likely to make a purchase than smartphone users. What's more, tablet visitors spent an average of $123 per purchase in 2011, the most compared with other devices and a figure that spiked during the holiday season. Desktop and laptop owners spent $102 on average, while smartphone owners spent just $80 per purchase at retail.

Adobe's report is a yet another indication that online retailers must take advantage of new mobile customers--and many already have. In 2011, for example, eBay did roughly $4 billion in mobile transactions, thanks to its focus on tablet and smartphone apps. "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," the report said. "Retailers should evaluate the opportunity that Tablet Visitors offer and develop strategies to better attract, convert and retain them."

The report is also especially good news for mobile-device makers. Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others have all produced tablets or smartphones with the intent of driving more sales in their online stores, where they hawk everything from books to movies to music. The findings should be a good sign for Amazon, in particular, as analysts explore whether the Kindle Fire will help drive up revenues and margins for the online retail giant.

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  • Rachel Stansel

    Matt - I agree with much of what you said.  As both a tablet (iPad) and smart phone user, I may do some browsing on my phone, but I always choose to make the actual purchase on my iPad.  Why?  It is simply easy for me to see and enter the info on the iPad.  I'd be interested to see the data you mention for overlap as well.  For some, myself included, we have replaced traditional computers with the tablet.  It is cheaper and give me what I need for a home "computer."  It may be that this becomes more and more common as people replace their traditional computers with more mobile options.

  • matt alvarez

    This may come out a blithering mess but here goes,

    I would largely attribute the difference not so much to the user as the medium. Purchases made on a tablet device seem more akin to a traditional online purchase where merchandise has a larger visual presence, adding familiar comfort. I browse frequently on my smartphone but I typically wait until I can get on my PC to feel out a product before purchase.

    Another angle to view this from is disposable income. To many of us, the relatively new medium of tablets are considered a luxury item, not a necessity yet. Those with the disposable income to become early adopters simply have more available and they are spending it.

    One interesting data point that would be nice to see is the overlap of the users. Is there a heavy bias in the combination users towards say smartphone/traditional vs tablet/traditional or any other permutation thereof?