Couches and Tablets Make Perfect Shopping Tools

Mar 11, 2013

Even though the first iPad only came out in April 2010, tablets’ share of web traffic has already exceeded smartphones, according to Adobe’s latest Digital Index. The gains were reportedly driven partly by "couch shopping."

The Index tracked more than 100 billion visits to 1,000+ websites worldwide across eight countries. Tablets accounted for eight percent of views versus seven percent for smartphones. All countries saw their share of traffic from tablets double over the course of last year. Desktops/laptops still dominated with 84 percent of the page views.

Adobe concluded that tablets drive more traffic because Internet users prefer them for more in-depth visits. Retail websites received the highest share of tablet traffic across all industries, followed by auto and travel sites.

Writing on Adobe’s blog, Tyler White, manager and primary analyst working on Adobe Digital Index, said it’s essential to create optimized sites for the growing crop of new tablet users. Wrote Mr. White, "They aren’t just watching a video clip; they’re exploring and engaging with content. They’ll be disappointed if they’re not able to take advantage of the smooth touch interface and awesome screen resolution of their new toy."

Still, while tablet use is increasing rapidly, flexibility will also be required with tablets getting smaller and smartphones getting bigger. The latest tablets also now have the ability to make phone calls.

"Marketers can’t rely on screen size any more to determine and deliver the most appropriate experience," wrote Mr. White. "They’ll need to pay attention to connection type (Wi-Fi vs. cellular), and referral source along with form factor to prioritize which options to offer the user," wrote Mr. White. "Think about it. Why do you choose to use your tablet instead of your phone if you have both? What different expectations do you have? Now apply that to your customer’s experience."

The findings come as a round of other studies examining usage have found tablets lead to higher click-through rates than PCs when it comes to search advertising, higher conversion, are significantly used more for viewing videos than smartphones, and have already become the preferred device for airplane travelers.

What lessons should retailers be gleaning from the growing popularity of tablets? How should retailers be adapting to the continuing changes around the design of both tablets and smartphones?

Join the Discussion!

20 Comments on "Couches and Tablets Make Perfect Shopping Tools"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Kevin Graff

Not being a ‘tech’ guy, my angle on this is more about how retailers need to adapt to this new reality.

Humans are ‘social’ animals with a need for human interaction. As such, they will continue to go to stores to show, BUT ONLY if the shopping experience in-store is great. If it’s mundane, they’ll stay at home on the couch with their tablet and click away.

The lesson for retailers is to drive up the in-store experience. Staff today are more important than ever. As are every other element of your store environment. If you’re a retailer, ask yourself: “Would you want to spend time in your stores?”

Dick Seesel

It’s pretty simple: Tablets have obviously eaten into the “share of search” of both smartphones and laptops. So retailers (and any other marketer of consumer goods and services) need to put the effort into three parallel types of website or app development, to meet the needs of all three users.

The next evolution—as tablets get smaller—is to see whether the “showrooming” phenomenon crosses over to tablet users, especially since many of them are tied to WiFi rather than cellular data plans. But at this point most tablet owners are not “portable” users while shopping.

Adrian Weidmann

The growth of tablet use and the rapid growth and mounting expectations for video as a communication medium are directly related. We live in a ‘Hollywood nanosecond’ world. We want to be informed, entertained and enlightened — delighted and surprised all within seconds! Video is the correct medium to reach us. When it comes to shopping and the cacophony of advertising and promotional ‘noise’, we simply don’t take the time to read anymore.

The tablet format is an ideal mobile platform to view videos that are used to accompany us along the shopping and post shopping journey. Using the tablet as a screen to view an instructional video for plugging in the interfaces for that new television, computer or assembling your new lawn mower is a powerful and effective way to strengthen the connection to the brand.

Brands MUST take control of their brand media assets and become producers and publishers of those assets across ALL customer touch points.

Max Goldberg

Excellent study that demonstrates that marketers must customize the shopping experience by device and connection. This is on top of the need to offer consumers a seamless shopping experience. It’s no longer good enough to dabble in ecommerce. Retailers must commit resources (money and manpower) to optimize the ecommerce shopping experience.

Jason Goldberg
Customers don’t choose tablets OR smartphones. They choose tablets AND smartphones. It’s not about creating an optimum experience for one or the other, it’s about understanding what customers want to do on each device, and optimizing for that. Context matters more than size! The rapid emergence of the tablet is just another indicator that many retailers have the wrong paradigm when it comes to developing their digital presence. Most retailers spend millions of dollars on hardware/software/and extensive in-house teams to offer their “desktop” experience. And then then spend a couple bucks with a third party to make a mobile version off in the corner. As tablets have emerged, retailers have wanted to simply say “they are most like desktops, so I’ll just give them the desktop experience.” But 60% of tablet growth this year will come from tablets that are 8 inches or smaller. So which of their two experience will retailers send these 7 inch tablets to? The reality is that for most considered purchases, consumers have multiple touches on their path to purchase. They may use a laptop at home or work, a tablet on the couch, and a smartphone in their car and in the store along… Read more »
Gene Detroyer

It is not your father’s retail store anymore!!!

Don’t look at the device, look at the behavior, as shopping is moving to devices, no matter what they are. The better the device, the more shopping will be done on it.

Go to Restoration Hardware. They have a limited number of samples on the floor, but each associate has a tablet and stations are available for shoppers to see all the variations of the samples on line. I didn’t try it, but I imagine if the shopper had their own tablet, they could also access the RH alternatives.

So, what does a retailer do? Give the customers the best WiFi access in the store possible. Encourage them to use their smartphones or tablets to help them shop. Be sure the online experience in the store is the same as they would have on their couch. And most important, understand…IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THEY BUY YOUR MERCHANDISE IN STORE OR ONLINE. IT ONLY MATTERS THAT THEY BUY IT.

Ken Lonyai

In a comparison of tablet vs. phone, the number one lesson is that usability matters. A small screen is not as comfortable nor as expressive as a larger one. That makes the phone a mobile device useful for in-store applications that require minimal interaction for best results—price comparison is an excellent example. In the comfort of one’s home, tablets provide a richer, more casual, more comfortable medium than either a phone or a desktop, so it’s a clear winner for catalog oriented applications like Pinterest.

Combining proximity and device data is a no-brainer for me to understand how to build/deliver content, it should be the same for any retailer as well.

Karen S. Herman

I am not surprised that retail websites received the highest share of tablet traffic according to Adobe’s latest digital index. The tablet offers a perfect opportunity to relax, explore, learn and connect with a website and shopping is a perfect driver. Nowadays, retail websites need to have a clean layout, be easy to navigate, educate on product, offer a community for a deeper level of engagement, and tell a story to create a lasting connection. For me, sets the benchmark in all of these areas.

Ed Rosenbaum

Retailers should concern themselves more with adapting to the eve of the future, whether it be a tablet or smartphone. We should be concerned whenever we hear/see the term “couch” anything. Our present general physical conditioning does not need any more “couch.” We need physical activity.

Shep Hyken

Grow up. Catch up. And keep up.

This is the way of the future. Technology has made it convenient for a retailer to sell their products online—and just as convenient, if not more so, for a customer to buy from the retailer.

If the retailer isn’t already there, it’s not about adapting. It’s about keeping up. And just about the time you’ve caught up, new technology will enhance the experience for the customer, so be sure to keep up.

Kenneth Leung

As tablets start coming in different form factors to support different niche usage, and phones start expanding in size, they will start cannibalizing on each other. From an app development perspective it means retailers need to consider all form factor variants for their apps in the future, not just standard iPhone and iPad and also take advantage of contextual information such as location. If you think about it, the content you serve up as a retailer inside the store on a consumer device should be different than if the consumer is at home.

Lee Peterson

The idea of a new device to help me with something I already know how to do is very similar to one thing: fashion. Now, you think of apparel when someone says ‘fashion’, but in reality, it’s a mindset that has been fully embraced by tech companies. Apple gets it, Dell doesn’t. Tech hardware companies are in the fashion business…look for the latest line from all of them on a consistent basis.

Brian Numainville

This really is an issue of how to best determine what shoppers are doing with each device and when. Smartphones are obviously with us most of the time no matter where we are. The same is true for some people and their tablets but seems to be less universal. But at home, a tablet provides an easier to view experience so is more likely to be the preferred tool. Bottom line…it isn’t an “either or” world …its an “and both” today!

Matthew Keylock
Matthew Keylock
4 years 7 months ago

Retailers should also be looking beyond tablets and smartphones.

There is rapid change in this space: as the article highlights, tablets have only been with us a few years. In the last 12 months or so tablets have shrunk and some smartphones have grown (so they are more like each other), the concept of “Glass” is out, TVs are smart, and so on.

Retailers need to be in touch with this to ensure they continue to remain relevant to their loyal customers and earn the loyalty of others too.

Kai Clarke

This survey seems to leave more questions unanswered rather than answered. Which population was used? Where was the survey done? When? How was the response for a tablet determined compared to a phone? What about large phones or phlablets? What about all in one PCs or laptops that are also tablets? There are too many unaswered questions regarding the survey itself, let alone the “results” which it found, to even give credence to the survey.

Vahe Katros
This article offers a great analog: Retailers need to think like psychiatrists – they should outfit a room with couches and watch people browse. Ask them what worked and didn’t work. Of course, prior to this, retailers should analyze the click streams of tablet shoppers to identify the obvious disconnects and successes. My imagined future couch shopping experience might include the following: 1. Tell me if the item I am browsing goes with something I’ve purchased in the past – color compatibility – that means you’ll need to have accurate color attributes added to your item file – perhaps you can ask vendors to provide this (dominant colors/background colors) 2. Is the item in stock? How long is the ride to your store based on traffic?3. Give me a way to reserve the item and create a shopping list for my next visit. 4. Alert me with a location reminder when I am at the store – bring up my shopping list. Let me share that list with my personal shopper to help me when I get to the store. 5. Allow me to share the web page I am viewing with others in my social circle. 6. Make FAQ’s… Read more »
Mark Price

Tablets offer retailers the chance to engage with customers away from the store, when they are in a content-consuming mood. As a result, larger denser pieces of content that contribute to the brand as well as highlight products and offers, may receive higher readership.

Retailers must become publishers—content marketers—who drive engagement through valuable reading as well as valuable offers. The tablet affords retailers exactly such a setting.

Ralph Jacobson

Tablets may, in fact, have the most effective form factor of any device for mobile shopping for now. Handheld phones are too small to shop for extended periods. Laptop PCs are now too big.

Retailers could have “premier” services available to handle mobile shoppers. How about an “express” line for mobile purchases? The ideas could be endless.

Brian Prezgay
Brian Prezgay
4 years 7 months ago

Jason G.’s comment couldn’t be more spot on. It almost sounds as if the conversation is moving to a channels-within-channels dialogue.

Consumers want a synchronized shopping experience that allows them to seamlessly interact how, when and where they want. There’s no doubt this is challenging, but it absolutely has to be the goal.

Shilpa Rao

Form factor of the device plays a very crucial role in designing the user interface for the app or even the website. With the penetration of tablets and smart phones, it becomes difficult to create one experience across devices. If the app is not usable on a particular device or you have to zoom in every time to look at the product, the shopping experience is not enjoyable and many times exhausting and overwhelming.

Understanding the impact of technology on the shopping experience is crucial. Apps have to go beyond the standard designs and adapt to the form factor of the device. Retailers and others need to invest in technology which makes it relatively form neutral. For instance, when you switched from and iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5, you would have noticed some apps with a black band on the top and bottom.

The challenge is not just various versions of phones, but across brands, platforms and devices, especially now when Android is gaining popularity and every day there are devices launched with a varied form factor.


Take Our Instant Poll

Will the optimal mobile shopping device of the future more closely resemble the tablet or the smartphone?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...