Tablet owners are objects of desire for retailers

December 11, 2012

Retail marketing is more complex than ever before. Budgets remain static, media options have fragmented, data now comes in terabytes and consumer touch points have exploded.

The largest explosion is happening in mobile tablet usage. Marketers are now playing catch up and trying to figure out where to best focus their efforts. How does this affect search? What about location based services? Is the mobile web the answer? What role do apps play?

What’s clear is that customers want a great tablet shopping experience, or they will go somewhere else.

Tablet owners are a segment that is widely regarded as the most desireable demographic for marketers. They have higher household income and are often Generation X or Baby Boomers, so they’re younger and wealthier than traditional PC users.

Retailers are recognizing the importance of T-commerce, as Tablet users are now some of the most valuable online shoppers. Tablet users spend 54% longer on site than smartphone users and purchase 20% more than desktop users. (source: Adobe Holiday 2011 Study).

If tablet owners are coveted by retailers, iPad owners are their dreams come true! iPads are used by 76.4% of tablet users (source: Emarketer June 2012) but skew higher in household income, so account for a larger percentage of online purchases.

With this new consumer behavior, printed magazines and catalogs have been given a new lease on life in digital format, frequently as apps. The larger screen size of tablets, compared to smartphones, and portability of the tablet means that valuable content can be repurposed and “commerce-enabled” to provide a quality shopping experience.

Publishers of Harper’s Bazaar have created a shopable magazine called ShopBazaar and digital catalogs are forecast to grow from 10mm in 2012 to 100mm in 2013, according to Catalog Spree.

New innovations are improving the online tablet shopping experience and reducing the frustrations that used to plague early tablet usage.

For example, shopping baskets now can be ‘contained’ within the app. This means that your customers don’t have to experience the confusing transfer from your app to your web page to shop, and back again. Instead they browse the catalog and add products to the shopping basket in one click. Only when you have finished your app browsing do you check out from your shopping basket at the web site.

A recent iPad app for leading UK retailer Marks & Spencer produced by Group FMG London, found that conversion was dramatically higher as a result of this built-in shopping capability.

The increased interactivity of the tablet is opening up some interesting new opportunities that are perfectly suited to the strengths of this device.

In October, Target launched the “first ever” shopable video called Falling for You, which showcases over 100 products, in a reality style series, that can be added to your shopping cart and shared with friends as you watch the video.

Although no results have yet been published, this interesting experimental blend of content, commerce and social interact seamlessly with the touch screen nature of the iPad. 

Most importantly, this new advertising model reflects the usage patterns of today’s tablet consumers, which are skewed more towards entertainment, shopping and social networking than traditional PC users.

The astonishing growth of the tablet has required a period of adjustment for marketers. Now that the tablet has hit the mainstream, urgent action is needed to better accommodate the needs and desires of the consumer. The brands that do this first will reap the greatest rewards.


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