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Tablets beat smartphones for mobile shopping: study

May 17, 2011

The new Coffee Table iPad app will soon launch

A new study claims that tablet owners use their devices to browse and buy online more frequently than smartphone holders, giving hope to retailers looking for a mobile lease of life for catalogs.

Twenty-nine percent of tablets users conducted mobile shopping over the Internet versus 22 percent for smartphone owners, posting a 31 percent to 28 percent contrast even for monthly usage. Soon-to-launch iPad-focused ecommerce marketplace Coffee Table commissioned the study that was conducted by the e-tailing group, a Chicago-based market researcher.

“It’s always a question of will they buy via any new mechanisms. Your expectations and the convenience and ability of the device to render particularly catalogs and products should be a powerful selling tool for retailers,” said Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group.

The study, titled “The Shopping Mindset of a Mobile Consumer,” was run in February. The respondents spent upwards of $250 online yearly and own either a smartphone or tablet.

Tablet remedy
In addition to simple browsing, the study showed a higher concentration of buyers in the tablet segment.

Sixty-eight percent of tablet owners bought online via the device, compared with 48 percent of smartphone owners.

One in four tablet owners made at least six purchases in the past six months contrasted with 16 percent on their smartphones, per the study. Thirty-nine percent made two to five purchases on their tablets versus 30 percent on smartphones.

Also, 88 percent of tablet owners said that their most recent shopping experiences via these devices were very to somewhat satisfactory in contrast to 73 percent of smartphone owners, according to the study.

When asked to rate the experience against one another, 69 percent of tablet owners said their most recent shopping experiences via these devices weresignificantly (39 percent) to somewhat better (30 percent) than shopping with their smartphones.

“Consumers want to and are taking advantage of mobile experiences,” Ms. Freedman said. “They are hungry and eager to find the right price whether they are in-store or online.

“Additionally, the tablet customer is a prime opportunity to reach a ripe audience who’s got the wallet to buy and enjoys the experience – always a win-win for retailers,” she said.

In-store, or out the door
Meanwhile, smartphones continue to play a key role in the mobile shopping process, as well as driving traffic to stores.

Take the store locator. As is done on the traditional Web, 44 percent of smartphone users frequently use store locators, while in consumers are aggressive over researching on mobile for sales and specials, competitive pricing at Amazon or at other retailers.

Also of keen interest are browsing of an online store on a smartphone and seeking popular product ratings and reviews, especially at the early shopping stage.

One of the biggest surprises that e-tailing group got when fielding the study was the range of categories already purchases on mobile, as well as the willingness to buy despite usability issues with smaller screens.

“Consumer experiences are not yet stellar, security is still a concern and user experience is sub-par, along with an inability to always access – remember AOL dialup?” Ms. Freedman said.

What exactly do consumers want from mobile shopping?

“Streamlined, intuitive shopping experience from favored retailers at sharp prices – or they’ll be using their phones to go elsewhere,” Ms. Freedman said.

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Mickey Alam Khan is editor in chief of Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer and Luxury Daily. Reach him at

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