Retailers Try to Adapt to Device-Hopping Shoppers
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER and STEPHANIE CLIFFORD December 21, 2012
Ryan O'Neil, a Connecticut government employee, was in the market to buy a digital weather station this month. His wife researched options on their iPad, but even though she found the lowest-price option there, Mr. O'Neil made the purchase on his laptop.
"I do use the iPad to browse sites," Mr. O'Neil said, but when it comes time to close the deal, he finds it easier to do on a computer.
Many online retailers had visions of holiday shoppers lounging beneath the Christmas tree with their mobile devices in hand, making purchases. The size of the average order on tablets, particularly iPads, tends to be bigger than on PCs. So retailers poured money and marketing into mobile Web sites and apps with rich images and, they thought, easy checkout.
But while visits to e-commerce sites and apps on tablets and phones have nearly doubled since last year, consumers like Mr. O'Neil are more frequently using multiple devices to shop. In many cases, they are more comfortable making the final purchase on a computer, with its bigger screen and keyboard. So retailers are trying to figure out how to appeal to a shopper who may use a cellphone to research products, a tablet to browse the options and a computer to buy.