Will 2013 be the year of Tablet Commerce?

For the past few years ‘mobile’ has been a point of discussion in the digital world. The year 2012 has been touted as “Year of the Mobile” in terms of ecommerce.

As more and more shoppers get comfortable with their tablet as a commerce tool, tablet sites will become a necessary and focal point of every brand’s multichannel strategy. Lack of customized ecommerce websites for tablets is likely to put the desktop site at the heart of the shopping process.

Users are increasingly finding it easy to consume information on mobile and make a purchase on tablet. However, many online retailers continue to ignore tablets.

This year Adobe Digital Index analyzed 23 billion visits to websites around the globe and found the share of visits from tablets has grown approximately 10 time faster than smart phones within 2 years after they hit the market, and more than 300% in the last year. Adobe forecasts tablet visit share will reach 10% of total website traffic by early 2014.

Consumers that have access to both smartphones and tablets are using them simultaneously, turning to the smartphone for quick research and price checks while the tablet is the preferred place to actually conclude the transaction.

The research shows that the average spends on tablet devices is 50% more than the smart phones. The below diagram also shows that conversion rates on tablets exceed smart phones on retail websites.

Why would tablets be preferred over smart phone when it comes to shopping?

- The Screen – Given the choice between a smartphone and a tablet, consumers find it easier to use the latter to browse internet, given the large screen size. It is easier to type, click on links and view information.

- Rich app experience – Tablet apps have features like the page flipping, horizontal scroll, gyroscope that give users a unique experience. The apps are engaging with excellent customer journey experiences.

A survey by Internet Retailer found that the average tablet owner makes around $63,000 (QAR 230,000) a year and Adobe research suggests that 29 percent of tablet owners have an annual household income greater than $75,000 (273,000)

Distinct Segments

In another research conduct by Adobe on The Impact of Tablet Visitors on Retail Websites it was found that Tablet Visitors and Smartphone Visitors are distinct segments that do not share the same visit objectives or have equal value.

Tablet Visitors are more likely to visit a retail site with the objective of making a purchase than are Smartphone Visitors. Each Tablet Visitor is four times as likely to purchase and spends over 50% more per purchase. In contrast, Smartphone Visitors may be more likely to visit a brick-and mortar retail store after visiting a website and be more receptive to local store promotional offers because smartphones are more portable than tablets.

A lot of traffic to sites comes from emails and social networks with people clicking on URLs via their mobile devices and tablets. By using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript online retailers can take an existing desktop site and optimize it for mobile users. This would help you manage your marketing campaigns successfully.

Apple sold 40 million iPad worldwide at the end of Q3 2012. In UAE tablet sales are expected to reach near half a million in 2012 according to IDC, MEA. Some people may argue that tablet commerce is restricted to iPad only. It is probably true, as iPad has captured around 90% of the market. However, there is room for improvement for other tablet developers to gain market share.

On a mobile device, it is obvious that a desktop site is not user friendly. But for tablets, a desktop site can work. Tablets can do better than desktops if online retailers start tailoring their experiences for them. At present most of the websites are still oriented toward a desktop experience. But there is still more optimization that can be done for tablets, including better touch navigation and bigger links

Tablet shoppers do represent a major opportunity. But with every opportunity comes potential threats i.e. websites that are slow for tablet users and don’t meet their performance expectations, will result in lost customers and revenues

Online Retailers are realizing the e-commerce impact of tablets, which have been around for two years. Users are increasing consuming information on mobile devices and the traffic on various websites proves and shows that smartphones and tablets are providing a big boost to retailers.

As more consumers use tablets to browse, shop and purchase online, there is a need for online retailers to offer tablet-optimized shopping experiences to not only meet the needs of growing numbers of tablet users, but to also increase sales.

The article was first published in Qatar Today magazine’s Feb 2013 issue



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