Tablets are changing eCommerce and consumer behavior

This isn’t your tablet of old.
A study by eMarketer reports that tablet penetration will reach 29.1 percent of Internet users by the end of this year. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. Tablets are everywhere you look and it’s not just consumers. Businesses are are finding ways to get tablets in the hands of their in-store and floor employees to help them better serve customers.

Tudor alphabet tablet

I have not yet started using a tablet for a couple of reasons. The first is that much of my time is spent creating content rather than consumer content and I believe a laptop/netbook is still a better choice for creating content. Sure I could buy a portable keyboard to go with a tablet. But if most of my time is spent creating content then why not just keep a more suitable device? I’m sure I’ll purchase a Google Nexus at some point. But I’m fine for the moment and a few other household members are using a tablet if I need to test something.

My son is like many consumers.  The tablet is almost a complete replacement for the computer because he uses it for consumption activities such as browsing, viewing, watching video. The unexpected twist was that it has not replaced the TV but it has become an accompaniment to content consumption. He loves live sports. So while the TV provides live programming, the tablet provides apps and real time stats.

What’s it mean for eCommerce operators?
An adoption rate of 30% of internet users is pretty stout and it will only continue to grow. So eCommerce operators should be, if not already, designing web experiences with tablet devices in mind. That could mean an app or an adaptive web design to fit the screen dimensions of the device. The tablets will display websites that were designed for PCs with larger screens. But it’s not the ideal interactive experience. If you are looking to create a remarkable experience then design with the device in mind.

Search engines and analytics sites already separate tablets into distinct device segments. This is good news, because it allows eCommerce teams to measure the impact of the device on their individual site. This also allows the marketers and developers to justify budget for creation and improvement of tablet experiences.

Opportunities will continue to grow as individuals and companies innovate. I expect to see tablets splash big in the education industry, banking, and even retail sales. It’s not just with people walking around either. These devices will be used as cash registers, in kiosks, or as part of interactive stations to provide product specs for customers. They are mobile and highly interactive.

I recently suggested that my daughter’s cross country booster club use a mobile device such as a tablet to help with tee shirt and concession sales during meets. The basis of the idea was to start taking debit or credit cards because a few times when I worked the booth last year people might have paid but did not have cash or a checkbook with them. The new swipe devices such as Square make this possible. I expect it to be a big hit with the booster club this season. (Go team!)

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