Source : wired.com
Thanks to the Apple iPad and other tablets, people are now shopping on the couch, in the bed, and in the kitchen, not to mention the most comfortable of “lean-back” environments: the bathroom.
In a soon-to-be-published survey, Boston-based SeeWhy asked more than 1,000 U.S. tablet owners where they used their devices to make purchases. Ten percent of respondents admitted that they had bought something while on the john, or at least in its vicinity. The bathroom actually placed last out of all locations in the home, after the living room (44 percent), bedroom (23 percent), kitchen (19 percent), and outside (14 percent), but this WC stat still shows just how powerful tablets are becoming as a virtual storefront.
If you can get people to buy in the bathroom, you can get them to buy anywhere.
SeeWhy makes marketing software aimed at bringing potential customers back to online shopping sites if they’ve left without buying anything. Along with its survey, the company also analyzed more than 21 million transactions from thousands of clients on its platform. Their study found that when shopping on a mobile device, customers were three times as likely to buy something when using a tablet than when using a smartphone.
Charles Nicholls, founder and chief strategy officer for SeeWhy, says that tablets are succeeding at shopping because people use them in a way — and at a time — they don’t use any other device.
“You find that you’ve got this evening pattern of recreational shopping that doesn’t happen on desktops in the same way,” Nicholls says.
If someone is at home and has a choice between a tablet and a phone, Nicholls says they’ll overwhelmingly reach for the tablet for shopping. Small screens still make the multi-step buying process painful on smartphones, he says, while tablets typically approximate the experience of shopping on a PC.
At the same time, desktops and laptops don’t lend themselves to the, ahem, same versatility of venue as tablets do. Nicholls didn’t say this, but I will: Taking your tablet into the bathroom is almost the same as taking a magazine. Even the thinnest laptops can’t do that.
Other research has come to similar conclusions (though not specifically about the bathroom). Market research firm eMarketer says patterns are starting to emerge around different uses for different-sized screens, especially around shopping. More consumers will shop on their smartphones than on their tablets this year (102 million versus 94 million), but only because more people own smartphones than tablets, eMarketer estimates. And the firm predicts that millions more of those shoppers will actually buy something using their tablets than their phones.
Clark Fredricksen, vice president at eMarketer, concurs that tablets have driven the concept of “recreational” online shopping. Most online shopping that takes place on PCs happens at work during the day, he says. People who would be less inclined to power up their laptops or desktops once they got home at night don’t have the same resistance to using their tablets.
And more of those people may not have PCs at home at all.
“What that means in a commerce context is we’re more likely to see people using a tablet in times when they may have previously used a desktop to shop for things or buy things,” Fredricksen says. “And in some cases, the tablet is going to offer a more intimate experience than the desktop ever did. You can touch the products you’re buying.”
Another factor beyond form factor that appears to play a role in the tablet’s shopping success is demographics.
At Overstock.com, 19 percent of the site’s traffic comes via smartphone, the company tells Wired. But the typical order size from phones is 10 percent below the site’s average, amounting to just 4 percent of total revenue. Meanwhile, tablets generate less traffic (16 percent) but result in orders 17 percent above the site average, contributing to 15 percent of Overstock’s sales.
People with tablets have higher disposable incomes, says Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, while phones “are essentially given away.” For sites like his — which, Byrne says, have optimized their design for tablets –”you’re attracting a good client base.”
“On the other hand,” he says, “as the price of tablets comes down, like everything else in consumer electronics, that discrepancy should disappear.”
In the likely event that price drop happens, even more people will probably start reaching for tablets to shop, since more people will have tablets to reach for. Nicholls says mobile devices in general still have far to go before becoming the default online shopping medium. His company’s study found that only 12 percent of online sales happen on mobile devices.
Even so, it’s increasingly clear that a new(ish) technology is once again enabling a new kind of consumerism. Much like going to the mall in the 1980s, tablets have turned retail into a way to relax, though in this case you don’t have to leave home — no matter what room you’re in. Tablets, says Nicholls, “have fundamentally changed the way we shop.”