October 10, 2012, 2:07 PM

Retailers are learning how consumers want to shop on the iPad

Cool features are great, but make it easy to buy, MMCF speakers say.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

Daren Tomey

This year, 44% of online shoppers surveyed about their holiday shopping plans say they plan to use tablets, double the rate from last year, says Daren Tomey, director of business development at digital catalog platform provider Zmags. He presented this and other results from his company's annual survey of tablet and mobile holiday shopping behavior in a session at the 2012 Internet Retailer Mobile Marketing & Commerce Forum titled, "What retailers and marketers need to know about the iPad."

The September survey of 555 consumers further revealed that, of those 44% of respondents planning to use tablets, 65% say it is because they get inspired with ideas for gifts, Tomey says. The top two destinations for tablet shoppers are retail sites, cited by 46% of respondents, and online catalogs, by 30%.

The survey suggests more men will shop via online catalogs on tablets than will women, a reversal from last year, Tomey says. He adds that 58% of those men, the largest swath, are aged 18-34. "I think it comes down to a convenience factor," he says. He pointed to the example of retailer Dick's Sporting Goods Inc., No. 101 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, as providing a clean, compelling online catalog that easily directs consumers—often men—to featured items.

Speaking with Tomey was a Zmags client, Scott Cohn, vice president of merchandising and sales for womens' footwear retailer BakersShoes.com. Cohn reported that between 2011 and 2012 Bakers’ tablet traffic, which it gains almost exclusively from the iPad, increased from 2% of overall traffic to 7%, and iPad revenue increased from 3% to 9%.

Using Adobe Inc.'s Omniture analytics tools, the retailer also noticed trends that other conference speakers had discussed, such as many consumers shopping via tablets during the evening and on weekends. Consumer feedback led the retailer to revamp its online and tablet sites, though not yet its mobile site, to give them the experience they want. "It's very clear that [consumers] expect more from the tablet than any other environment," he said, "because tablets are capable of it."

To customize for the iPad, Baker's adjusted a few features, such as introducing buttons for selecting shoe sizes in place of drop-down menus that led many shoppers to abandon the site, and adding a hover zoom feature to product images, Cohn said. The retailer also moved both its "More Ideas" product recommendations and the Buy button up on the main product page, whereas before consumers needed to scroll down to find them.

"We saw a dramatic increase in click-through to checkout to purchase with the Buy button anchored on the top of the page," Cohn said, though he did not provide details. More than just having an iPad catalog, he added, retailers need to make sure it makes it easy for consumers to shop and complete a purchase.

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