How does device usage differ in France, Germany, and the UK?

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Author: Arvato

It is well known that the use of smartphones and tablets has grown rapidly. While a few years ago desktop computers dominated, today activity is distributed across a variety of devices.

 

In Germany, PCs and smartphones account for roughly equal online retail traffic volume, whereas tablets generate about half as much.

 

But which device dominates the traffic and at what time of day? And how does device usage differ in France, Germany and the UK?

 

We normally assume that behaviour during the week is different to behaviour at the weekend. On weekdays factors such as working hours, school and leisure activities influence how much consumers are able to use the internet. On the other hand, the weekend offers more time for leisure activities and is often associated with different sleep patterns.

 

Arvato has investigated which device (desktop / laptop, smartphone, or tablet) dominates online retail. The main findings are as follows:

  1. On weekdays, PCs and notebooks dominate during the day, while smartphones dominate in the mornings and evenings, perhaps during the commute and whilst on the sofa.
  2. On the weekends during the day, the traffic doesn’t just consist of PCs and notebooks, smartphones are also used to a large extent. In the evenings the smartphone is still the preferred device.

Weekdays

During the week, German consumers’ behaviour is defined by their work routine. Therefore it is not surprising the analysis shows a higher level of online traffic from PCs and notebooks. On the other hand, in the mornings and in the evenings from 7pm until 8pm visits from smartphone devices dominate.

 

In general it is clear that traffic volumes on all devices rise throughout the day and are at their highest from 7pm to 10pm.

 

Device Traffic, Weekdays

  • Mornings (until 7am) and evenings (from 7pm), the traffic is primarily from smartphones.
  • During the day (7am–7pm), the traffic is primarily made up of PCs and notebook browsing.

Weekends

Following on from our initial hypothesis that people's use of devices changes at the weekend, the following section shows the results of our analysis demonstrate that this is indeed the case.

 

It is hardly surprising that consumers primarily use a smartphone in the early morning hours when they visit an online store. By comparison it is also noticeable that between 6am and 10am all devices show a higher volume of traffic than on weekdays.

 

Device Traffic, Weekends

  • The smartphone dominates online traffic for 16 hours a day.
  • Only for 8 hours a day, during the day, the proportionate visitor flows from PCs, notebooks and smartphones are equally high.
  • In the mornings (until 11am) and evenings (from 6pm until 7pm), the traffic is primarily from smartphones.

Which device dominates traffic and at what times in France and the UK?

Weekdays

France and the UK are two countries which differ substantially from Germany as well as each other in terms of eCommerce key performance indicators (e.g. conversion rate, return rate). A comparison of device traffic gives us further insight as to whether the use of PCs and notebooks, smartphones and tablets also differs from German consumers.

 

Here it is important to take into account that smartphones have not penetrated the French market quite as much as the UK. It is therefore reasonable to assume this will be reflected in the behavioural data.

 

Overall Germany and the UK patterns of behaviour show a similar split between devices. PCs and notebooks dominate the traffic during the day, while smartphones are largely used in the mornings and evenings. It is interesting that the change from PCs and notebooks to smartphones happens at 5pm in England, two hours before the change in Germany (7pm).

 

However, French consumers show a different pattern: during the week they prefer to use a PC or notebook when they visit online retailers, switching to their smartphones only after 10pm.

Weekday Dominant Device Traffic

During the week there are clear differences in user behaviour between different countries. But how does the weekend compare?

 

The comparable distribution of devices at the weekend is more distinctive than on weekdays. In the UK, the relevance of smartphones is clear. Over the whole day, smartphones account for the largest proportion of traffic.

 

However, we get a rather different picture in France where the distribution of device traffic is similar to weekdays. Consumers increasingly use PCs and notebooks at the weekends too. Late in the evening user behaviour changes and even in France, people usually visit online shops with their smartphones.

Weekends Dominant Device Traffic

Implications for eCommerce

The results of the analysis clearly show there are significantly different patterns of device usage differ in France, Germany, and the UK. As a side note, tablets seem to be less relevant.

 

These findings could be used to target and time marketing activity more precisely. For example, tailoring content to appeal to the shorter attention spans during peak traffic from mobile devises and, during PC and notebook peak times, online marketing activity should be increased in order to take advantage of the extra exposure.

 

“Push” communication to consumers via newsletters or app notifications can also be tailored to best suit their behaviour. The aim should be to provide useful information and the right kind of content to individual consumers when and how it is relevant for them.

 

In order to understand which age groups are researching and buying at which time across devices, retailers could also benefit from deeper analysis of the behavioural differences their customer base displays.

 

Finally, it is important to point out that online retailers who are not yet optimised for mobiles should endeavour to change this as soon as possible. Perhaps by moving to responsive and/or mobile websites as well as considering the development of an app. The latter having several additional cross channel advantages. After all, one thing is certain: the age of desktop-only traffic has ended and multiple devices are here to stay.

 

For more detailed information you can download traffic distribution information here.

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