First there was the traveling salesman, then the mail-order catalog. Then, TV shopping networks made it even easier to shop right from the comfort of your own home. When the internet came around, we thought that was the ultimate home shopping experience, but it’s about to go one better. Forrester’s new white paper says the tablet is going to be the next big thing in e-commerce, trumping even the much talked about mobile phone.
Though only 9% of web shoppers currently own tablets, Forrester expects to see a “hockey stick” develop for adoption stats over the next five years. A hockey stick. You know, a short, slight rise from the tip to the heel then a near vertical rise four times the size. (I assume that’s what they mean, someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)
But sheer numbers doesn’t make for more e-commerce. What does, is the form and function of tablets over computers and mobile phones. First, tablets beat mobile in screen size. The tablet is big enough to scan comfortably, in the same way as you would flip through a catalog. The larger screen makes it easier to see details and it’s infinity better than a mobile phone when it comes time to type in credit card numbers and other personal information.
Tablets beat computers for portability. Even if you own a laptop, a tablet is lighter and easier to handle on the go. It’s also more comfortable balanced on your knees when you’re sitting on the couch, watching TV as you shop.
The third area is rich content. Shopping apps have taken the catalog experience and turned it into an audio-visual show. Instead of simply reading a list of the extras on a DVD, you can click to view clips. Not sure if you like a band? Listen to the tracks before you buy. Sure, you can do all of these things on a computer, but there’s one big difference. Tablets encourage recreational browsing.
Sucharita Mulpuru, an e-commerce analyst at Forrester told the “New York Times,”
“The element of discovery is missing online, because most people go to Google, and Google isn’t about discovering something online, it’s about typing something into a search box. This is much closer to the actual physical browsing experience.”
Right now, we’re in a chicken or the egg stage with tablet marketing. Since tablet adoption is still on the low side, most companies can’t justify the cost of creating a specific shopping app. Mulpuru says that those on a tight budget can skip the app for now, as a normal website works just fine on a tablet. But moving forward, as adoption starts that expected, meteoric rise, it will make sense to invest in apps that take advantage of what tablets do best.