Monetate’s ecommerce report

Most companies are already taking note of the explosion of smartphone and tablet traffic to their websites.

But smartphones aren’t tablets and vice versa. The first place to find proof that all devices aren’t created equal: Conversion rates.

During a recent Monetate-Forrester webinar on the topic, Thomas Husson, VP principal analyst, Forrester Research, illustrated that point with data from Forrester and

“The vast majority of retailers reported conversion rates on smartphones were around 1%, while conversion rates for tablets were 2.4%,” said Husson. “Clearly, smartphones are much lower in terms of conversion rates than tablets. So if you don’t optimize for both the mobile and tablet experience, you will face a challenge.”

Monetate found similar tablet and mobile conversion trends in its Ecommerce Quarterly, underscoring that it’s likely that it’s easier to use tablets during the checkout process, leading to a spike in conversions for visitors on that device compared to smartphone users. But that’s not where the differences end.

“The kind of content and services being accessed by smartphone and tablet users are very different,” Husson said.

While visitors largely use tablets for what he called “lazy internet”—consuming media and content, as well as browsing—they tend to prefer smartphones primarily for communication, content snacking, and using mobile apps.

Husson pointed to another important distinction between the devices: when and where consumers use their smartphones and tablets.

Forrester Research internet access infographic

“Tablets are portable, while smartphones are pocketable,” Husson said. “So tablets are mostly used in the living room, while smartphones are used within the home and also on the go. Mobile phones are also the most personal devices we use, while tablets are often shared with spouses, partners, or children.”

Husson noted that there are overlaps in terms of use case for smartphones and tablets, as both are used in the home, and both are used to consume some type of content. But due to smartphones being used outdoors and on the go more often, there’s a massive difference in the types of experiences people expect based on the device they are using.

“Most marketers are still lumping smartphones and tablets into the same mobile bucket,” Husson said. “We believe this is the wrong approach.”

The solution: Companies should work to deliver device-specific experiences to visitors in order to maximize the likelihood that they will purchase.

Husson pointed to Lufthansa, the German airline, as an example of a company that is delivering device-specific experiences that are relevant to visitors’ needs.

Lufthansa’s tablet experience promotes colorful photos for an immersive browsing experience.
Lufthansa’s tablet experience promotes colorful photos for an immersive browsing experience.
Lufthansa's mobile experience promotes services for on-the-go smartphone visitors.
Lufthansa’s mobile experience promotes services for on-the-go smartphone visitors.

“Lufthansa is making the most of each device,” said Husson. “The tablet experience offers a more immersive and rich-media experience. It’s about the discovery and exploration phase of the customer lifecycle, with videos and content from city guides about destinations.

On the other hand, Lufthansa’s mobile experience is far more focused on delivering a homescreen with task-oriented service options that will help the visitor on the go. While other website features are only a swipe away, allowing smartphone users to access service options immediately is a smart move.

To learn more about how to capitalize on conversion rates through smartphones, tablets, or other devices, take a look at our ecommerce quarterly report on the topic here.