May 15, 2014, 4:52 PM

Tablets become a more popular shopping device

The use of tablets to shop increased four times faster than the use of smartphones, but personal computers still are preferred for web shopping by 81.8% of consumers worldwide.

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The number of consumers citing tablets as their preferred way to shop online increased nearly four times faster in the past year than those citing smartphones, according to a study by online marketplace Rakuten. More consumers still prefer to shop on smartphones, however, with 6.8% citing it as their favorite method compared to 6.1% for tablets.

“Just four years after the launch of Apple’s iPad, tablets are fast-becoming the most popular device for shopping online,” says Bernard Luthi, Rakuten.com chief marketing officer and chief operations officer. “With tablets’ larger displays offering a more enjoyable experience than most smartphones, it seems bigger is better, however many retailers are failing to measure up when optimizing their online presence and apps. Retailers are missing a trick by not tapping into this trend and delivering a tablet-orientated experience to shoppers.”

Despite consumers’ growing comfort with tablets, personal computers still prevail as the primary web shopping tool. Globally, 81.8% of consumers cite using personal computers as their preferred method of shopping online, compared to 83.2% in 2013. In the U.S., 80.8% prefer personal computers.

Mobile devices—smartphones and tablets—were cited by 13.8% of consumers worldwide as their preferred online shopping device and 18% of consumers in the U.S. In 2012, only 12% of consumers shopped online using a mobile device. While smartphones are still preferred over tablets, the growth in consumers using smartphones to shop increased 9.7% from last year compared to 41.9% for consumers using tablets.

The United Kingdom emerged as the most tablet-forward market with 12.2% of consumers there saying they prefer to shop on tablets. In the U.S., 11.3% of consumers prefer shopping on tablets. Brazil on the other hand, had the lowest percentage of consumers shopping on tablets with just 0.7%.

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