For a device which pretty much didn't exist in the minds of consumers until a few years ago, tablets (led by the iPad) are now fundamentally altering browsing and buying patterns.
A recent report from eMarketer says tablets are extending US consumer shopping hours "well into the night and generating incremental sales as a result", even more so than mobile devices and laptops.
But the good news is not being matched by accommodating retailers, the report says, with most "failing to meet their expectations".
Author Cathy Boyle adds:
"Tablet users want to interact, inspect, even 'play' with products through their device, and retailers that deliver an immersive, fun experience are the most likely to see their tcommerce sales increase."
The report, looking across all industry verticals, highlights recent RichRelevance research from April this year which illustrated the difference in average price of items bought on iPads versus mobile devices and PCs/laptops.
- PCs/laptops - $22
- Mobiles - $24
- iPads - $53
research from earlier this year found that almost all respondents said they used their tablet device most often in the living room and bedroom, with activity starting to increase from 5pm each day and reaching a peak at 9pm.
The frequency of how often consumers are buying products using their tablet devices is also interesting, with almost a quarter (24%) two or three times a months, but 20% once a week and 21% more than once a week. Splashing out on something every single day of the week appeals to 12%.
eMarketer calls this the "rise of the couch and pillow commerce".
So what are they buying as the slumber in front of the TV (or ignore their book/partner in bed!)?
Wave Collapse asked consumers to identify the last purchase on their tablet devices during April 2012 - here are the top five items:
- Hotel reservation - 22%
- DVD - 22%
- Clothing - 20%
- Books - 18%
- Air tickets - 17%
Evidence of the results of all this is certainly starting to emerge - online travel agency Travelocity
says 55% of all its mobile bookings are now coming via tablet devices, according to director of mobile Jason Fulmines, with so-called "mobile-exclusive deals" generating a "good percentage" of hotel bookings.
eMarketer, however, says retailers without a defined tablet strategy are "leaving money on the table".
"Ignoring the growth of tablet shoppers is unwise when optimization and experimentation are low-risk, high-reward propositions."
This is primarily because many retailers are still not optimising sites for tablet devices, with slow loading times (apparently 28% of people expect a tablet to load quicker than its laptop/PC cousin), built for larger screens, quirky content formats, Flash issues et al.
"Winning over tablet shoppers means inspiring and entertaining them with storefronts built for touch, movement and sound."
NB:Tablet reading image via Shutterstock.