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Retailers slow to keep up with tablet shopping behavior: Forrester

July 26, 2011

Retailers have been slow to keep up with tablet shopping behavior, with the average company investing just $14,000 on tablet commerce tools, per a new study by Forrester Research.

Forrester surveyed more than 25,000 consumers and compared the mobile shopping habits of smartphones against tablets. The study was conducted with Bizrate Insights.

“Tablet commerce is potentially a game-changer – it appears to be potentially more powerful than mobile commerce,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst of ebusiness and retail at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA.

Tablet frustrations
Despite the growth in tablet shopping, there is still a gap between the needs of consumers and retailers.

In Forrester’s research, the average retailer invests $14,000 on tablet commerce tools.

Additionally, only 30 percent of retailers surveyed said they had plans to give store associates tablet tools to help sell merchandise.

Out of the study’s tablet owners who shop on their devices, 15 percent said their biggest frustration with tablet shopping was that the shopping experience was limited, signaling how retailers are missing the mark on mobile shopping.

Eighty seven percent of  online retailers said that their main objective is to drive sales and revenue to the Web site. 

Improving customer service raked in as the second-highest objective with 65 percent.

The emphasis on sales shows that online retailers have not tapped into the leisure needs of mobile users.

In addition to improving customer service, brands need to also think about engaging consumers more, whether it is through location-based services or improving retention.

The upswing of tablets
Forrester also found that  nine percent of online shoppers own tablets, and more than half of them reported using their tablets to buy products.

Additionally, 47 percent of tablet owners said they had shopped and bought something on their devices, while 13 percent of owners admit to shopping without buying.

The study credits the increase in tablet shopping to the usability of the device, most importantly in the size of the screen.

“A significant portion of shoppers prefer to use tablets to shop over smartphone, and in many cases even over PCs,” Ms. Mulpuru said.

According to Forrester,  40 percent of consumers who own a tablet and a PC said they use their tablets more when both are available.

However, users are still accessing information on their PC and mobile in addition to their tablets. 49 percent of tablet owners said they spend more time online because of their tablets.

The study also found that the average age of a tablet-only shopper was 45 years old while a tablet and smartphone shopper averages at 43 years old.

“Retailers should use mobile to build your brand, ensure that your metrics are well measured and keep track of tablet adoption and growth,” Ms. Mulpuru said.

Going forward, it is clear that tablet commerce will play an integral part of the mobile landscape.

“As tablet penetration grows, so will tablet commerce – both at home and in stores,” Ms. Mulpuru said.

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

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