Affiliate Window’s mobile data is drawn from over 3.5 million network transactions each month across 1,600 advertisers spanning the retail, travel and telecoms sectors. Clients we work with include John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, British Telecom and 

Working with around half the top 100 retail brands in the UK as well as over 1,000 SMEs allows us to build a comprehensive picture of the mobile landscape. In the final quarter of 2015, here were the headlines.

Q4 traffic remains steady while sales continue to surge

Having seen the share of mobile traffic drop slightly in Q3, we saw this increase by almost a percentage point in Q4, bringing it back to 47.5% of all network traffic. 

This recovery has predominantly been driven by smartphones which increased to 26% of traffic from 24.5% in the previous quarter. Tablet traffic also increased slightly but this was minimal (19.3% vs 19.2%). Smartphones continue to be the device of choice when it comes to casual browsing and Q4 witnessed especially strong performance over the Christmas period. On Boxing Day, 55% of traffic originated from a mobile device with 30% of that through a smartphone.

Switching our attention to sales, we see a different picture. The share of sales through mobile devices continued to grow. This was up to 39.5% – over two percentage points up on Q3 and up from 36.2% in Q4 2014. There is still a disconnect between the share of traffic and sales through mobile devices. While this can allude to poorer conversion rates through mobile devices, the way these devices are used will also have an impact. Our research throughout the year pointed to the role that mobile devices play in terms of being an influencing device and highlights the importance of being able to track sales across devices to get a true understanding of their value.

While we have seen smartphones dominate traffic, tablets have traditionally dominated sales. However we saw this gap erode even further in Q4 with sales through smartphones and tablets almost identical at 19.6% and 19.9% respectively.

 With large-screen phones and better connectivity, the boundaries between smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly blurred, demonstrated by the erosion of tablet’s share of sales. This is something that we expect to see increase further into 2016 with smartphones finally overtaking tablet in terms of sales as well as traffic. 

Discounts fuelling conversion but hampering AOV

With the peak trading period involving heavy discounting in Q4, it is no surprise to see this have an impact on both conversion rates and average order values. Mobile conversions were up to 4.6% (from 3.8%) while desktop increased to 6.5% (from 5.8%). 

Looking at this by device type, tablet devices converted at 5.7% (from 4.8%) while smartphone conversion was at 4.1% (from 3.5%).

While the deals available over cyber weekend encouraged greater conversion, it did mean that average order values were lower than we had seen in Q3. Desktop saw the biggest drop off – down from £85.50 in Q3 to £77.45 in Q4. Mobile AOV wasn’t impacted as much, with this down by just 44p to £64.60. In fact, the smartphone AOV was up to £58.34 from £54.49 in Q3 – highlighting the growing confidence in purchasing through smartphones. Not only are consumers purchasing more via smartphones, they are prepared to spend more when they do. 

The iPhone continues to dominate, while the iPad loses ground

Looking more closely at a breakdown of Apple vs Android devices, the iPhone continues to be the dominant smartphone. It again increased its share of traffic (77.1%) and sales (76.7%) while Android lost market share (20.5% and 21.1% respectively).

Switching attention to tablets, the traffic trend is reversed. Android tablets continued their steady growth and accounted for 56.7% of all tablet traffic across the network. While Android tablet sales have also increased, they are still some way behind the iPad with just 31% of sales. A conversion rate of just 3.1% through Android tablets sees the share of sales well behind the iPad which converted at 8.7% in Q4.

As well as being more likely to purchase, iPad users are also spending more when they do. IPad AOV was £76.48 in Q3 compared to £59.32 for Android tablets.

With a strong end to 2015 we are expecting to see strong mobile growth into the new year, with smartphones consolidating their position as the go to mobile device of choice.

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