July 26, 2011, 9:06 AM

M-commerce finds a home on tablets

Shopppers prefer tablet computers to smartphones, Forrester says.

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The number of tablet owners is small, but most who own one use them to shop for products and services.

Tablets appear to be becoming a preferred device for consumers as more of them report using a tablet to shop than they do with their smartphones, thanks in part to the larger screen on tablets.

In its “Why Tablet Commerce May Soon Trump Mobile Commerce” report released today, Forrester Research Inc. says that more of the 2,511 consumers it surveyed that own both a tablet and a smartphone this spring prefer shopping on their tablets to their smartphones. “This isn’t surprising given that tablets address one of the biggest challenges of mobile devices, the small screen,” says Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

The report also says that 9% of consumers own a tablet and that 47% of those consumers have shopped for and bought something using the devices.

The preference to shop on tablets over smartphones carries across all age groups.  65% of Gen Y consumers, those under 30 years old, preferred tablets, while 72% of Gen X consumers, those between 30 and 44 years old, did. 67% of baby boomers, consumers between 45 and 64 years old, preferred tablets, as did 51% of consumers age 65 and older.

Mulpuru says tablets may eventually become standard for in-home and portable shopping scenarios while smartphones may be used more for in-store shopping. Given how consumers are using multiple ways, including e-commerce sites, to shop on an e-retailer’s site, most e-retailers will want do everything possible to make it easy for consumers to shop.

Retailers should approach tablets as another was to capture a sale, she says.

“It’s about making sure that consumers can transact easily on the tablet,” Mulpuru says. Because tablet adoption still is low, no retailer is pushing consumers to tablets. “It’s about not scaring anyone away if they choose that device.”

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