In Q1 of 2012, Nielsen reported that 79% of US mobile device users had used their tablet or smartphone for “shopping related activities.” The same study revealed that 42% of tablet owners had even “made a purchase” using their device.  OK, tablet owners really like to shop. But, how many tablets are really out there?

US tablet ownership is predicted to rise 90% in 2012 to 53.2 million. At this rate, one-third of all US Internet users will own a tablet by 2015.  This segment is growing at breakneck speed. Must be kids playing Angry Birds.

As of March 2012, 28% of tablets owners had a household income greater than $100K.  These are consumers with disposable income.

Retailers must be specifically addressing this segment, right? Segment growth on steroids, big spenders & measurable intent. This sounds like retailer Nirvana.

Unfortunately, most online retailers aren’t prepared for this massive shift in how consumers are shopping online.

78% of SME retailers have not established a mobile presence that is differentiated from their standard web experience, even though almost all of them want to.  {tweet this}

One could also argue that retailers should be serving vastly different experiences for mobile vs. tablet shoppers.  The same study conducted by MoPowered, revealed that small retailers are slow to adopt mobile due to concerns about cost, resourcing & security.

This makes sense. It’s hard enough for small retailers to maintain one great web experience. Two more for mobile & tablet seems downright scary.

Sorry, SME retailer. Your customers don’t care.

The study also uncovered that 79% of respondents felt that shopping on a mobile device was slow & difficult to navigate. 30% (seems low) said they had abandoned a transaction because the experience was so bad.  According to Cam Fortin, who leads Business Development at, consumers want a wow experience when shopping on a mobile device. He recommends adding unique features to mobile experiences to differentiate.

When retailers serve standard e-commerce sites to mobile consumers, a puppy looks at them like this. Not really, but it is guaranteed to increase abandonment.  I’d bet that mobile shoppers who see un-optimized retail sites bounce immediately.

OK. We know small retailers have been slow to implement mobile adaptations of their standard web experience.

What about the big guys?

I decided to conduct a highly scientific research study of the Top 100 Internet Retailers. My research methods involved visiting their web sites with my Verizon iPhone 4 to ascertain their mobile strategy.

Mobile Web Adoption of Top Internet Retailers

The results were surprising.  After auditing the Top 100, I found that:

Only 67% of the Internet Retailer 100 has a website optimized for mobile devices. {tweet this}

I don’t value my free time and decided to take my research a step further. What about the Top 250 Internet Retailers?

Only 59% of the Internet Retailer 250 has a website optimized for mobile devices. {tweet this}

Am I the only one completely floored by how low these numbers are?

“It’s the future!” – Telecom Guy From Congo

Savvy shopping cart platforms aren’t hesitating to capitalize on m-commerce. Shopify, fresh off a $22 million dollar raise, acquired Select Start Studios, a mobile development agency in its home city of Ottawa. Founder and CEO Tobias Lütke says “After seeing a massive increase in mobile transactions at Shopify, we believe the future is now and the m-commerce revolution is well under way.”

Word, Tobias. Let’s hope the rest of the online retail world catches up fast.

Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the Founder & CEO of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hydroflask, Footjoy, GUESS, and Big Chill to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He also once lived aboard a 36' sailboat in Boston.