Christmas 2011 has seem more people than ever using their mobile phones to shop online. That in itself isn't surprising - but what's caught our eyes is the scale of the increase.
IBM Coremetrics has released a series of figures that compare 2011's key shopping days in the USA with last year's online traffic. First came ‘Black Friday', which is the day after Thanksgiving Day. It says mobile devices accounted for 14.3% of all US online retail traffic on 25th November, up from 5.6% in 2010. Over two-thirds of that traffic was via Apple iPhones and iPads. Sales on mobile devices reached 9.8% of all online purchases, up from 3.2% year-on-year.
The company also noted that shoppers who used the iPad tended to purchase more often than consumers with other mobile devices; iPad conversion rates were 4.6%.
Next came Cyber Monday on 28th November, when 10.8% of shoppers used a mobile device to visit a retailer's web site. That's lower than Black Friday but up substantially from 3.9% in 2010. In addition, mobile sales accounted for 6.6% of all online sales; again lower than Black Friday but much better than the 2.3% in 2010. As before, the iPad and iPhone were rated first and second when it came to mobile device traffic.
And now Forbes.com is reporting Christmas Day online retail results, with the Apple iPad once again accounting for more ‘mobile' purchases on 25th December than any other device.
Although it's encouraging to see the figures increasing, they also suggest to us that the user experience - with web sites generally designed for larger screens on tablets and laptops - is still causing problems for customers with smaller-screen mobile devices. Not only does this mean retailers are missing out on mobile sales, it also means many of those retailers aren't providing a web site suitable for the vast majority of their customers. There's still an enormous opportunity for the retailer who invests in an online store that can handle both mobile and desktop traffic effectively.