The New Catalog? Online Shopping On Tablets Growing


As more and more tablets find their way into the hands of consumers, the payoff from tablet-oriented shopping experiences could become very intriguing, according to new data from Forrester Research. This new breed of casual living-room computing is already changing the way people think about buying things over the Internet and one enormous online shopping company with designs on the tablet space could make things very interesting later this year.

About half of all tablet owners prefer using that device to shop as opposed to their smartphone, Forrester said Monday. Smartphones have changed the way that retailers think about selling their wares because they can be used in the store to augment the experience, but tablets are different: 80 percent of those surveyed by Forrester use their tablets most often in their living rooms or family rooms. That’s both good and bad for retailers, in that shopping experiences built for the larger tablet screen have the ability to draw new customers and convince old customers to spend more, but creates yet another potential case of app fatigue for mobile developers at those retailers.

Forty-seven percent of tablet users have bought something online using the device, according to Forrester. Of that group, just 44 percent said they weren’t frustrated by the experience, with most cases of frustration coming from the limitations of the tablet as compared to the PC. But the tablet offers the notion of “flippability,” Forrester said, or a browsing experience akin to flipping through the pages of a catalog. Retailers who figure out how to best promote their products for this experience could be set to capture new business.

But there’s still a long way to go before investing in tablets makes sense on a broad scale: only 9 percent of online shoppers have bought a tablet. Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has sold over 25 million iPads to date, and Android vendors perhaps a few million more, but that’s a drop in the bucket next to the hundreds of millions of smartphones sold every year.

Forrester wonders, however, if Amazon’s entry into the tablet market could have a pronounced effect on the online shopping experience via the tablet. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) building significant hooks into its enormous online store to make it very easy for its customers to browse and purchase new products, and that might be hard for Apple or other Android vendors to duplicate.

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