January 18, 2012, 1:13 PM

Make way for tablets

There’s big growth ahead in 2012 for tablet commerce.

Lead Photo

Tablets emerge as a favored device for shopping among many.

So much for being an outsider. Through a story earlier this week about who is the tablet shopper, based on a survey commissioned by Zmags, I learned that for the most part I fall into the typical tablet-owner demographic. How unadventurous for me, but how beneficial for retailers with a strong tablet app or e-commerce site optimized for tablets.

One of the tidbits of information uncovered in the survey of 1,500 consumers is that 49% of tablet owners expect to spend more online in 2012 than they did in 2011. To put that into perspective, only 20% said they expect to spend more in stores this year than last year and only 19% expect to spend more using their smartphones.

But the revealing figure for me was the percentage of consumers who expect to purchase less in 2012. 21% of those surveyed expect to purchase less inside a store this year than last year, that’s the most when compared with those making purchases on a smartphone, 17%, and on tablets, 10%. A huge swath of consumers—59%—who expect to purchase about the same amount in a store in 2012 as they did in 2011. The numbers are 40% for smartphone purchases and 30% for those using a tablet. Some tallies do not add up to 100% because could select multiple devices.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider the implications of increased tablet commerce. With more consumers expected to use a tablet for shopping, many retailers have to ensure their e-commerce sites render well on tablets. And it’s apparent that many retailers understand this necessity. The evidence of this can be found in the February issue of Internet Retailer, which takes an in-depth look at web site design and usability.

If 49% of tablet owners expect to make more purchases this year using their tablets, it seems apparent that an e-commerce site’s performance on tablets takes on greater importance. It will not outweigh the role of the desktop in e-commerce, but certainly it presents a ripe opportunity for many retailers.

As I analyze my tablet use, especially during this past holiday season, it’s clear I have fallen in step with many other tablet owners. I shop or browse using my tablet several times a week. I stay away from e-commerce sites that do not render well on the iPad. And, like so many others, I expect I’ll spend more this year while shopping on the iPad than I did in 2011. So much for being different.

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