The use of smartphones and tablets for shopping this holiday was featured among the NRF’s list of the Top 10 trends for 2011. They predicted that half of Americans with smartphones and 70 percent of tablet owners would be using their devices to assist with their shopping.

Now that the majority of holiday shopping has been completed more reports are surfacing about actual usage.  According to IBM’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday Reports, sales from mobile devices were basically three times higher this year than last.  This data, which comes directly from the web analytics of top retailers, shows mobile devices driving from 10 to 14 percent of all web traffic and from 6.6 to 9.8 percent of all sales.

Mobile commerce has clearly arrived. The question retailers now need to be asking is how well are they meeting the needs of this new mobile consumer and what can they do to improve in 2012?

According to Tealeaf’s 2011 Mobile Shopping Experience Report, retailers have plenty of room to improve.  Their analysis of social conversations around mobile shopping found that 41 percent of the chatter voiced frustrations.  These frustrations were most often related to an inability to complete the purchase and problems searching for products.  A negative mobile experience could create even bigger problems for retailers as a Harris Interactive study points out with the finding that 63% of consumers who experience a problem conducting a mobile transaction say they would be less likely to buy from that company via other purchase channels. Ouch!

As you take a closer look at your mobile commerce strategy and initiatives one of the first steps I recommend is to separate smartphones from tablets.  Based on the data around usage and responses to surveys these devices are entirely two different beasts.  Some have even asked the question if tablets should even be considered mobile commerce. Others are coining new names for their use such as Tablet Commerce or T-Commerce.

Smartphones are being used to help shoppers find store locations and check hours.  And once these shoppers get to the store they put their smartphones to work to research products, read reviews, compare prices and fetch coupons.  Tablets on the other hand are primarily used for shopping at home on the couch or in bed.  In addition, tablet shoppers are about twice as likely to complete a purchase than those with smartphone based on the findings in the survey of online shoppers conducted by Equation Research for rich media merchandising company Zmags which produced a nice infographic summary of the results.

How people feel when using these devices also appears to be quite different.  The Zmags survey found that tablet owners felt happy and more excited to shop than those without tablets.  This was a stark contrast to tabletless smartphone and laptop owners who felt impatient, stressed or overwhelmed about shopping.  Further evidence of this impatience is illustrated in this infographic about disappointment of mobile customers created from another Equation Research survey.  A key finding was that 74 percent of mobile users would abandon a site if it didn’t load in five seconds or less.

With this in mind, here are some questions to think about:

1. How will you adjust you mobile commerce strategy to address the needs of these two types of customers?

2. How will this influence the designs of your mobile experiences on smartphones and tablets?

3. What unique content will you create and provide on these different devices?

Let us know your thoughts about these questions and any other comments or questions you have about the split personality of mobile commerce.