Staying Ahead of the Tablet Trend in 2012

By Gary Lombardo — December 15, 2011

The Year of Mobile is drawing to a close, and we are entering the Year of the Tablet. While tablets remain a sub-category within mobile, new tablets continue to hit the market and the increasing number of tablet owners is rapidly changing how consumers and brands connect both online and in-store.

Right now, as we close 2011, tablets[1] account for at least 20 percent of all mobile commerce transactions. As t-commerce heats up, retailers that are integrating tablets into their brand strategies – and maintaining flexible, extensible platforms that are able to evolve along with these technologies and the consumers that use them – are best positioned for success. There are many ways to stay ahead of the tablet trend, but here are three ideas for embracing tablets:
1.      Understand how consumers use tablets.
By the year 2015, 108 million consumers in the United States will be using tablets, according to recent information reported by Mashable[2]. By early next year, that same report estimates that 54 million people will own tablets and describes the typical tablet-user as an 18-34 year old male with a high income.

Consumers use tablets differently than they use smartphones: tablet-users are more likely to browse, sitting down; they check email, get news, visit social networking sites, and play games; on average, they spend about an hour and a half each day using their tablets. While trends can help you find your place in the quickly growing tablet marketplace, it’s key to know how your customers fit into the broader trends. It’s important to track tablet traffic and understand the KPIs. If you’ve built a native tablet app, also measure cumulative and active installations.
2.      For now, focus development on the iPad.
New tablets continue to hit the consumer market, but the Apple iOS – the iPad – continues to dominate the market and, according to one estimate, is expected[3] to end 2011 with a 75 percent market share. Websites on tablets should not simply redirect to a smartphone site or call up the main website. Consumers use tablets similarly to how they would read a magazine, flicking through catalogue pages and browsing highly visual pages. Sites can be tablet-optimized by “right sizing” product images and video, accommodating both landscape and portrait views, and making content “swipeable.”

Because tablet browsing is inherently visual, tablet users consume more video than smartphone users; adding video to your tablet website may significantly increase the time customers spend on your site, leading to increased sales. Tablet apps are not as common as mobile apps, but there’s always the option to “go native.” Native apps can leverage the unique features of tablets and provide faster load times, but must also be developed and maintained across each platform. As with mobile native apps, the decision should be driven first and foremost by consumer demand.
3.      Transform the in-store experience through tablets.
Mobile technology has revolutionized the in-store shopping experience and fewer devices have done it better than the tablet. In-store tablet use merges the best of traditional, sensory-oriented in-store shopping with web-savvy consumers’ demand for instant data and transactions, providing a seamless blend of the digital and physical brand experience.
  • Tablet kiosks offer a newer, cheaper and sleeker way for retailers to offer in-store kiosks, providing interactive, rich encounters that allow shoppers to develop their own experience, including choosing how long the engagement will last and taking from it only what they need. As sleds become available in the market for tablet devices, mobile payments such as card swipe, chip and PIN and NFC will become reality using tablets, allowing tablet kiosks to take on the additional functionality of a mobile point of sale (mPOS) device – something typically reserved today for non-tablet mobile devices. 
  • “Clienteling” delivers a personal, service-enhancing customer experience by putting a tablet in the hands of the store associate. By leveraging customer profile data, such as preferences, purchase history and location, the store associate can recommend products, packages of products and/or services without having to leave the shopper’s side. 
  • As a digital sign, tablets let brands change their messaging easily to address different customers throughout the course of an engagement, and the design impact is limited only by the brand’s creativity. Tablets’ compact size and portability provide retailers a more nimble approach over traditional digital signs. In businesses that are driven by daily consumer demand, brands can use digital sign tablets to address these needs, boosting sales according to their inventory or certain promotions.
You Can’t Table Tablet Marketing
Retailers will likely always be struggling to innovate fast enough to keep up with the ever-evolving technological demands of today’s consumer, but those who are actively innovating – and developing new brand touch points – will certainly set themselves apart from the rest.

By using a cloud-based digital commerce management platform, retailers will also be in a better position to manage and provide accurate and consistent product information on multiple channels, applications and devices. Tablets are here to stay, so embrace them and think about how you can use them in your stores to enhance brand experiences and build brand loyalty.

[1] Brohan, Mark. “The Internet Retailer Survey: Mobile Commerce.” Internet Retailer. Accessed Dec. 13, 2011.
[2] Bissram, Veena. "Tablet Owners Define New Category of Shoppers [INFOGRAPHIC]." Mashable. Accessed Dec. 13, 2011.
[3] Paczkowski, John. “Apple’s Share of the 2011 Tablet Market: 75 Percent or More.” All Things D. Accessed Dec. 13, 2011


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