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Why tablet commerce is expected to explode in 2011


Jun 14, 2011

The popularity of tablet devices has been growing substantially in recent years. Tablet computers have all of the main features offered by a personal computer, but are operated entirely by the end-user – they don’t have a computer operator in the ‘middle’. Portable tablet PC’s are equipped with a touch screen – this is used as a primary input device – and they have a wireless adapter for Internet and local network connections.

The concept was originally presented to the market by Microsoft back in 2001,but in recent years, any tablet-sized personal computer can be referred to as a tablet device, regardless of its operating system. Tablets have evolved rapidly of late, and many of them now use features such as virtual keyboards and handwriting recognition as text input options via the touch screen. Tablets are now used for a variety of tasks from accounting, to shopping on the web and gaming.

Tablets are changing how you shop online.

According to online retailers, and a recent report published by research firm Forrester, around half of all mobile commerce is now coming from tablet devices – and they predict that purchases of tablets are likely to grow even further throughout 2011. Forrester analysts say;

“In spite of the fact that the iPad was only introduced in the spring of 2010, it immediately proved to be a formidable driver of traffic through mobile devices. Many retailers report that already half of what they consider to be mobile traffic is coming through tablet devices.”

Certainly, tablet devices enable end users to browse, and therefore shop, on the go. People can now browse the Internet on buses or trains, at home, or even in airports. This large degree of flexibility is proving to be very popular with many users, as they embrace the technology available on traditional office-based PC’s with a higher level of mobility.

Tablets will replace smaller mobile devices?

The same perhaps cannot be said for smaller versions of mobile devices, such as smart phones. Smaller devices are generally seen as less-than-ideal for mobile shopping, perhaps due to their more limited features and connectivity offerings. Although traffic from smart phones is reasonably steady, it is unlikely to reach the popularity of devices such as the iPad. Forrester add;

 “Tablet devices, on the other hand, will grow by capturing share from traditional PC web traffic by untethering shoppers from their desktops, enabling easy browsing in a living room, during a bus commute to work, or at an airport.”

And this is certainly showing in traffic statistics. According to Forrester’s report, which monitored ‘typical’ mobile traffic sources from an average retail site, a staggering 45.5% of traffic came from IPad’s.

Given the current buzz surrounding social media networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, it could be assumed that social media had a large role to play in the popularity of mobile devices – however, Forrester’s report would indicate that this is not the case. Their research showed that around 40% of major retailers, who have spent time building social media profiles have not been able to “quantify the return on this investment, and even fewer have found that social networks grow their business.”

In fact, only around 28% of these companies confirmed that social media strategies have helped them to grow their business in a profitable way. To this end, it is suggested that online retailers place much less emphasis on social media generated sales and instead look towards optimizing for high performance and tablet (as well as other mobile device) conversion.

Want to know what Tablets are considered the best? Find out the top picks from CES 2011:

  • Mobile Apps


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