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Tablet commerce trends to expect in 2012

January 3, 2012

The Zappos ZN magazine iPad app

Mobile commerce made a noticeable shift in 2011 with more sales and marketing campaigns aimed specifically at tablet users. From mobile bookings to retail catalogs, here are some trends marketers need to keep an eye on in 2012.

Last-minute bookings
According to a recent study from mobile ad network Greystripe, 60 percent of tablet owners have booked a trip via mobile.

Following the research, more travel companies have ramped up their mobile efforts in 2011 after seeing strong sales via tablets.

For example, online travel booking company Expedia tapped tablet devices this year with an application built specifically for iPad and Android tablet devices after recognizing that a significant portion of its bookings were made via mobile (see story).

The Expedia iPad and Android tablet app

Other travel companies that have embraced tablet-only bookings include and Orbitz.

The size of the tablet is a cross between a smartphone and a desktop, which makes it an ideal platform for companies to sell higher-priced items such as travel plans while consumers are on the go.

Now that online travel companies have a grasp on where their users are booking trips from, the next challenge will be creating more seamless booking options for users in 2012.

In-store guide
With its functionality and portability, the tablet poses a plethora of opportunities for retailers in 2012.

However, tablets can be used for different purposes besides simply serving as a consumer shopping device.

This year, more retailers used tablets as an in-store tool that was meant to educate and engage consumers about their products.

For example, Benefit Cosmetics recently implemented an iPad app that is used exclusively by the company’s employees to show consumers in-store promotions, product reviews and search for specific items (see story).

Here is a screen shot of the Benefit iPad app that was used in-store

In 2012, more retailers will need to follow suit by offering consumers a unique, in-store mobile experience.

In addition to educating consumers about products in-store, tablets can also be used by brick-and-mortar retailers to help users locate and buy products that might not be available in a particular store.

Tablet advertising
With the increase in tablet ownership, marketers were forced to adapt their mobile advertising strategies in 2011 to target both smartphone and tablet users.

Tablets are inherently a more lean-back, relaxed experience, which means that consumers are more likely to research and comparison shop on their mobile devices.

Therefore, a unique experience is needed for tablet-specific advertising.

Google has realized this shift in consumer behavior and recently rolled out a tool for its advertisers to develop tablet-specific ads (see story).

An example of what Google’s new tablet-focused ad formats can look like

Although the new tools are meant to help all types of mobile marketing, the opportunities for tablet-specific commerce are particularly noteworthy and will be used as an example of commerce advertising in 2012.

Retailers and brands now have the opportunity to slim down their mobile offerings to target tablet users specifically.

Digital catalogs
The overall digital shift has meant that retailers and brands need to think outside the box with their traditional marketing efforts.

For mobile, tablets have become a key part of transitioning a print catalog for digital users.

Brands such as Anthropologie, Zappos and Amazon have all rolled out tablet-specific services that showcase its product offerings via mobile.

Retail catalogs make a natural fit for the tablet platform because they are geared towards leisure shopping and help consumers learn about the products and interact with them on a larger screen.

For example, Zappos recently rolled out a commerce-enabled monthly magazine iPad app that combines editorial content with its merchandise to let users know how to style products (see story).

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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