A lot of mobile shoppers were making merry with wine on Thanksgiving weekend. Mobile commerce sales were up 100% year over year for the weekend at e-retailer Wine.com Inc., and 22% of total sales for the period ranging from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday came through Wine.com’s m-commerce site, its iPad app and through customers shopping the Wine.com e-commerce site on a tablet.
Tablet sales made up about 90% of mobile sales, with two-thirds of tablet sales coming through the browser and one-third stemming from the app. Wine.com is expecting a surge in tablet sales after consumers open their presents Christmas morning.
“With the arrival of the iPad mini, I expect sales through tablets will grow as more people get the mini for Christmas,” says Rich Bergsund, CEO. “When the iPad came out, the first Christmas there were iPads there was a big surge in business for the weekend after Christmas. It’s about convenience. Computers became ubiquitous, but then phones and tablets are even more present. People are ordering more on the weekends and after hours. If you’re like me you have a laptop at work, an iPad at home, and a smartphone with you everywhere you go—there’s not a time when you can’t be shopping. We’re seeing that with our customers, who are running multiple devices.”
The mobile conversion rate for the holiday weekend is up 15% year over year at Wine.com, No. 110 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400. Bergsund declines to give the exact figure but says the tablet conversion rate is similar to that for desktop computers and that the smartphone rate is less than half of the conversion rate for tablets and desktops. He gives partial credit for the conversion lift to a promotion they launched immediately before the holiday weekend—a 30-day free trial of Wine.com’s Stewardship program, which offers free shipping for all orders for $49 a year.
“We’ve had the program for a few years now and regular customers really love it,” Bergsund says. “Thousands of people have signed up for the free trial. That’s a big number for us, and people in that program are people who buy a lot of wine. The feedback we get is they really like the convenience of it, they don’t have to worry about the cost of shipping, they can buy one bottle or two cases, it’s convenient and a great value.”
Mobile traffic for the holiday weekend was up 100% year over year. Half of mobile traffic came from smartphones and half from tablets. Bergsund says much of the smartphone traffic is consumers researching wine; the vast majority of purchasing occurs on a tablet.
And, as is the case with a great many retailers, consumers using Apple Inc. devices—the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod Touch—are the most lucrative mobile shoppers for Wine.com. More than 90% of mobile sales stem from an Apple device.
“It’s about our demographic,” Bergsund explains. “The Wine.com demographic is an affluent and educated group, and that’s the sweet spot for mobile devices Apple sells. They charge a premium and they are worth it, and those consumers are our demographic. Plus, the user interface is easier on Apple than other platforms; most mobile sites work better on an iPhone than on other alternatives.”
While 22% of sales were mobile on Thanksgiving weekend, Wine.com’s regular mobile sales percentage measures in the high teens, Bergsund says. He predicts in 2013 that regular number will increase to 25%.
“I’m hoping people buy a lot of iPad minis,” he says. “A driver of mobile purchasing is when these new devices come out that everyone loves; they are fun and engaging and people take them everywhere, and they work great with e-commerce sites.”