Mobile devices gain as shopping platforms

The PC remains the platform of choice for making online holiday gift purchases, but mobile devices are rapidly gaining in popularity, based on research by Ovum and IBM.

On Cyber Monday, Ovum released the results of a survey of more than 15,000 consumers across 15 major global markets. The research firm found that 68% of respondents globally prefer to use a PC or laptop when shopping online. Only 1 in 5 uses a mobile phone, and a smaller proportion (14%) use a tablet.

Then yesterday, IBM released its “Cyber Monday Results 2013” report on U.S. Cyber Monday sales, which finds that mobile shopping is soaring. The overall findings don't differ much from Ovum's, but they do suggest a trend. Mobile devices accounted for 17.2% of online sales, IBM found, up a significant 55.4% year-over-year. Mobile shoppers' traffic represented 31.7% of all shopping traffic—up 45% over 2012.

The IBM figures show that customers will browse using smartphones, which drove 19.7% of traffic, vs. 11.5% for tablets. But when it came to making purchases, tablets accounted for 11.7% of online sales, vs. 5.5% for smartphones.

IBM found that Apple mobile-device fans are big spenders—iOS users spent $120.29 per order, vs. $106.70 for Android users. Android users accounted for 9.1% of online traffic while iOS users were responsible for 22.4%.

Ovum attributes the reluctance to use a mobile device to perceptions that services are not secure (49% of its survey respondents) or that personal data might be misused (47%).

Angel Dobardziev, principal analyst at Ovum, advised operators to design services that extend customer's comfort levels with PC e-commerce to the m-commerce domain. Indeed they should, but IBM's report suggests that even if they don't, the problem will soon solve itself.

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