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Why couch commerce will thrive in 2013

By
January 25, 2013

The new Gilt iPad app

Tablets have no doubt changed mobile shopping behavior and now smart retailers are delivering tablet-specific experiences that are integrated with their current ecommerce offerings.

When it comes to smartphone devices, marketers are seeing more on-the-go usage. Tablet devices are now known as “couch devices” because consumers are reaching for them while they are sitting at home.

“Tablet usage is exploding, with adoption rates outpacing mobile,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce.

“Tablet users in the United States are expected to expand at a compounded annual rate of 51 percent from 2010 to 2015,” he said.

“A recent Adobe study checked 23 billion Web site visits and tablet visits have grown 10 times faster than smartphones within the same two-year period after hitting the market, and more than 300 percent in the last year alone.”

Tablet adoption
Tablet devices are different from smartphones. They are interactive and seamless to use.

Furthermore, tablets provide bigger real estate for marketers to work with.

“Many people find that booting up their laptop at home reminds them of work, while their mobile phone is a more private, personal experience,” Mr. Kerr said.

“Tablets bridge this gap between the mobile private viewing experience and the large screen format of a laptop.

“Thinking that a standard retail site renders well enough on a tablet is ignoring the true potential of tablet commerce,” he said. “The big transaction percent lifts we see come only when a retailer designs and deploys a shopping experience specifically for couch commerce that takes advantage of the technical user interface of the tablet the site is being viewed on.

“A standard site displayed on a tablet is not the same as a tablet site displayed on a tablet and conversion metrics bear this out.”

Companion device
Tablets are becoming a great television companion device for consumers.

According to Alex Campbell, cofounder/chief innovation officer at Vibes, Chicago, there will absolutely be more people buying things while they are watching TV this year.

With the extremely fast growth and adoption of tablets, consumers now have a tool in their hands – or at least within arm’s reach – that gives them the access and screen size of a laptop with the simple and intuitive user experience of a smartphone.

“The tablet is a natural extension of TV,” Mr. Campbell said. “It is a lightweight, simple-to-use tool that brings the power of the Web to a person’s fingertips.

“No touchpad and no fumbling,” he said. “Most people who own tablets have it within arm’s reach while watching TV, and already use it to browse – for news, social media updates and products.

“I predict marketers are already taking this into account as they look to their TV ad strategies.”

Consumers are increasingly picking up their tablets to make purchases, especially in the evening.

The main reason this is happening is convenience.

It is easier to use a tablet while consumers are watching TV rather than a laptop.

Moreover, the user experience is much simpler and seamless.

“More and more people are using tablets to browse and shop in the evening while watching TV, and therefore these devices will eat into sales normally done via laptop,” Mr. Campbell said. “Smart marketers who are advertising a particular product on TV will make it easy for couch shoppers to find that product via tablet.

“Take, for example, a department store’s TV ad for shoes,” he said. “There needs to be a picture of the exact shoes featured in the ad on the store’s homepage, so when someone sees the ad and goes to the Web site, they aren’t required to search for the shoes that brought them there in the first place.

“Smart marketers realize that there needs to be continuity between all channels, and the experience needs to be seamless – and positive – regardless of the platform used to get there.”

Added convenience
Couch commerce will thrive this year as tablets become increasingly affordable and accessible to the public, per Joey Rahimi, counder/chief information officer of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh, PA.

Although tablets have historically been linked to an affluent demographic, they are now entering the mainstream.

“Over the last year, we saw tablet traffic grow by 174 percent, with 95 percent of all visits coming from iPads. In the same period, tablet revenue increased 166 percent,” Mr. Rahimi said.

“More and more consumers are sitting down with their tablets in the evening,” he said. “Across our platform, the peak hour for tablet traffic and revenue is 9PM Eastern.

“As a combined source of traffic, smartphones and tablets will eclipse desktop by November 2013. Although these mobile devices currently provide on average 14 percent of online revenue, this should increase to an estimated 24 percent by year end.”

Drew Wilson, senior director at Acquity Group anticipates that couch commerce will see some accelerated growth as we move into 2013 most likely towards that second half of the year and into the first half of 2014.

However, this acceleration may come in several forms including actual sales, requests for quotes or appointments, and/or specific levels of engagement to further promote and advance a sale.

Additionally, as tablet prices begin to drop due to increased product competition, more consumers will acquire tablet devices,  thereby increasing the consumer’s expectations about transacting in the mobile channel.

“Because mobile devices, including tablets, continue to advance in their abilities to display and process content, brands will continue to look for ways to bring products and services to these devices including the ability to transact,” Mr. Wilson said.

“Over the last several years, the mobile channel has seen significant growth in providing consumers with optimized and specific mobile experiences, which has laid the foundation for brands to continue to expand their mobile capabilities to further engage and transact through mobile interactions,” he said.

“As more and more consumers acquire smart phones and tablets, they will expect to interact with brands as they have traditionally done with the desktop experiences.  More advanced consumers have recently and will continue to find ways to navigate their way to perform transactions as the brands allow.  This trend will quickly expand to everyday consumers who will expect brands to provide a simple and very user friendly experience that is fun to engage with while sitting on their couch multitasking after work.”

 

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at rimma@mobilemarketer.com.

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