Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

When it comes to mobile shopping this holiday season, there will be no place for the makers of smartphones and tablet computers to hide. Analysts will be able to detect not just the brand of the device from which a consumer forays to retailing Web sites; they’ll know what model each shopper is using.

This bit of intelligence comes from John Squire, chief strategy officer–smarter commerce, for IBM. Squire is the maestro behind the annual IBM Coremetrics Benchmark campaign–which monitors shopping activities on more than 500 US retailing Web sites and lesser numbers of sites in other countries. Each year, Squire and his team issue a series of updates during the crucial Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days. And, this year, the data will be made public in rapid-fire mode. If you have a large appetite for online retailing data, check in frequently at #holidayretail on Twitter.

JohnSquire 12_16_10Mobile shopping is expected to be hot this season. Squire expects about 12% to 15% of transactions on retailing sites to come from mobile devices, up from 4.5% during last year’s holiday shopping season. “We can detect exactly what device they’re using–the exact device,” he says. “That information can help retailers decide how to invest in enhancing the mobile shopping experience.”

Right now, the trends are favoring Apple and its iPad tablet. Squire says iPad users are aggressive online shoppers. In October, for instance, the ratio of iPad users who visit sites and actually buy something reached 6.8%–compared to a so-called conversion rate of 3.6% for mobile devices as a category. As a result of this and other indicators, retailers are adding elements to their Web sites that take advantage of iPad’s capabilities, such as the pinch and zoom features. Giving consumers a rich interactive shopping experience on their iPads likely will increase the demand for the devices–so this trend could snowball for Apple.

But Apple had better watch its back on the smartphone front. Data from October shows that for the first time, owners of smartphones based on Google’s Android software are as shopping-oriented as owners of Apple iPhones.

The Benchmark campaign provides a treasure trove of data. IBM Coremetrics, the Web analytics business unit, gathers real-time data from its 500-plus clients representing about 35% of the US online market, aggregates the data, and slices and dices it for individual retailers, retailing categories and the overall market.

Clients also get intelligence from a separate consumer insight engine, which scours the Web for blogs, Facebook updates and Twitter Tweets where people are commenting about their purchasing plans and their attitudes toward products and brands.

Tech industry leaders and analysts have been talking for years about how the Internet combined with analytics tools will make it possible for retailers to tailor their offerings, merchandising and marketing to consumers much more accurately than could have been imagined in years past. These days, they’re delivering on their promises.

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