One of the most interesting facts coming out of the Cyber Monday and the sales window since was the observation that the iPad delivered a bigger share of purchases than any other mobile device.
As expected, overall mobile commerce grew as a percentage of Monday’s cyber sales, almost tripling (to 6.6%) versus last year. And while smartphone traffic was significant during Black Friday, indicating that consumers have become adept at using their phone while out in the traditional retail world, the spike in Monday’s iPad commerce says something else: people are opting for a tablet-based shopping experience, even when there’s a traditional PC around.
This is a big deal. The reasons for choosing a tablet over a smartphone for shopping are self-evident, but choosing your iPad over your PC reflects a sea change in shopping behavior. The simple answer, of course, is that the usability advantages of the smaller device (touch screen, two-finger zooming, app-based retail environments, and so on) have taken hold on a broader scale than previously seen.
But there’s something else going on here, according to a recent Forrester Study, titled Why Tablet Commerce May Soon Trump Mobile Commerce. According to Forrester, 30% of Gen Y shoppers are buying tablets with the express intent to have the device serve as their primary means of accessing digital content, replacing their PC completely. Even when they still have both devices, 40% report using their tablet more than their PC, when both are equally available.
Forrester notes that the tablet offers a more convenient shopping experience, but more than that, what the tablet does is create a more leisurely and thoughtful experience. Because it moves through the house or office with you, the act of researching, browsing and purchasing is not seen as a finite behavior that needs to be completed in a single session. The instant on-off functionality allows you to start and stop our session at your convenience.
Another interesting stat is that television appears to be the one screen that is largely immune to losing eyeballs to a tablet – only 9% of tablet owners report using their TV less (and when you consider the penetration of streaming Netflix and HBO GO-type tablet apps, that’s a pretty low number). The tablet represents the realization of the fabled convergence of TV and Internet usage. The ability to synchronize content between a tablet device and an HDTV broadcast allows a new dimension of exploration and advertisers need to look at how content will play across both screens in tandem.
For the past year, we at VMBC have been driving our clients to look at the tablet environment as a distinct third screen, requiring a design and usability solution that is more than just a simple reworking of their smartphone app or mobile web. Specifically, tablet commerce design (whether app or web-based) must be far more than simple a catalog and order sheet; it needs to present content in a way that drives browsing and exploration. The tablet environment has the unique ability to become a living magazine, presenting custom content and allowing deeper dives at the reader’s discretion.
You must walk the line of creating an experience that is immersive and reflective of the culture and environment you present in-store while still operating in a very utilitarian and functional manner.
The bottom line: many consumers are resistant to buying a tablet and ubiquitous t-commerce is still a long way off. But the leading edge of the next generation of retail shoppers is already fully engaged with the device and your brand needs to be there today if you want to win tomorrow.