Holiday Sales Will Make This the Year of the Tablet

 
The popularity of tablet computers has opened the way for a new wave of shoppers: the ones who never leave home. They skip the crowds and the parking hassles, and with wallet features integrated into mobile shopping applications, they can get the best deal and shipping to their house, all with the swipe of a finger. If 2011 was the year of shopping with your smartphone, then 2012 is the year of shopping with your iPad.
 
Our experience with ShopSavvy is that 90 percent of those using ShopSavvy for the iPhone are doing so while standing in retail stores. But as more mobile shopping applications are adapted for the tablet, that new customer base opens up. In shopping more at home and on the go, consumers are responding to the barrage of moves this year by retailers that recognize the need to bring online and in-store experiences closer together.
 

Vicki Cantrell, executive director of the National Retail Foundation’s Shop.org, has said, “Consumers can expect even more of an integrated shopping experience this holiday season with companies also looking to enhance their mobile marketing efforts to capture the attention of the millions of holiday shoppers who are already thinking about their shopping lists.”
 
With the approach of the holiday season it seems that a day doesn’t go by when we don’t hear about an online retailer getting more aggressive in stores or a brick-and-mortar retailer introducing a new offering online. Offers of discounts, price matching and free shipping don’t hurt either, nor have big pushes from big players like Amazon and Facebook.
 
Reasons for optimism abound
 
Amid all the holiday sales forecasts floating around these days, this one from Forrester Research jumped out at me: Online shopping in the U.S. will be up 15% this holiday season to $68.4 billion; and average spend will be up 12%. Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, has been quoted as saying that the increase stems from two things: online holiday shopping and mobile commerce.
 
Recently I read that “just in time for the holidays” Target would make Wi-Fi available in all its stores. That’s quite a change from a year ago, when some retailers suggested blocking signals and changing barcodes in effort to combat showrooming.
 
This year – and it’s really happened this year — retailers have embraced the reality that consumers are gathering shopping information with their smartphones. They’re taking advantage of the fact that consumers know a lot about products in stores and they’re using mobile applications to help them make a buying decision. This year, I think, you’ve seen retailers and consumers getting on the same page and leveraging mobile technology. Clearly both have benefited.
 
Big numbers, big potential
 
It’s estimated that among owners of mobile devices, 18% of smartphone owners and 24% of tablet owners have purchased through those devices. Those numbers demonstrate the huge opportunity here. Here are some more: Forrester estimates that by the end of the year, 60 million consumers will own tablet computers. Another reason to love the tablet: conversion rates. It stands to reason that consumers are more likely to make a decision to buy in the relative calm of their home with the benefit of the larger product images of the tablet.
 
What huge potential, and it’s still largely untapped.

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