Which is Better for Mobile Shopping, Tablets or Smartphones?

Are you wondering whether it’s worth providing your online retail offering on tablets, particularly the iPad? Are you also facing the challenge of how to get your mobile strategy on track? Before you decide which course to follow, here’s some data to consider:

Are you wondering whether it’s worth providing your online retail offering on tablets, particularly the iPad? Are you also facing the challenge of how to get your mobile strategy on track? Before you decide which course to follow, here’s some data to consider:

Although only a small percentage of users, tablets are poised to more than double their U.S. installed base penetration in 2011 to 7.6 percent of the population, or 24 million devices, according to eMarketer. Two out of five consumers considering purchasing an iPad cited shopping on the device as a reason for their interest, according to research from Vision Critical in November of last year. This isn’t surprising since online shopping is a visual experience and tablets are content-consumption devices.

Early results show that targeting tablet owners rather than smartphone users may be the wise choice, according to the e-tailing group. One in 10 tablet owners used their device to browse or buy online every day versus 6 percent of smartphone owners. The research also shows that once owners start buying via a tablet, they return. Nearly 25 percent of tablet owners made at least six purchases during the past six months, compared to 15 percent of smartphone users who did the same.

Furthermore, tablet owners tend to be gadget-buying early adopters. iPad owners tend to be young, educated and affluent, an ideal target market, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Forrester Research.

Due to the tablet’s larger screen and better user functionality for browsing, consumers preferred the tablet shopping experience (88 percent thought it was satisfactory or very satisfactory) to that of a smartphone (73 percent thought it was satisfactory or very satisfactory).

While smartphones are great for shopping in-store or gathering information on the go, they’re not user friendly for extended research activities. In part, this is attributable to the fact that less than 5 percent of retailers have a mobile site, according to October 2010 research from Brand Anywhere and Luth Research.

Here are three tips to consider when planning your company’s mobile strategy:

  1. Take advantage of the tablet’s visual presentation (but avoid using Flash).
  2. Check how your content is formatted and renders on different tablets.
  3. Make sure that shoppers can easily purchase once they’ve seen enough.

Now is a good time to start testing tablets to enhance your customers’ shopping experience, especially if your products are highly visual in nature or need to be seen in the environment in which they’ll be used. Bear in mind that tablets and smartphones fulfill different shopping needs for consumers, therefore you shouldn’t choose one option over the other.

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