iPads Have Big Potential for Retailers

The features of Apple’s iPad and competing tablets have made them an ideal entertainment and media consumption device, but many tablet owners also have a strong interest in online shopping, and retailers are taking note.

“The iPad’s portability, tactile screen and vivid graphics foster a casual and exploratory shopping experience that leads to product discovery, impulse buying and shared purchasing,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “How the iPad Is Transforming Retail.”

Some 41% of consumers likely to purchase an iPad cited shopping as a reason for their interest, reported Vision Critical, a Vancouver-based research and technology firm, in a November 2010 survey.

This year, eMarketer estimates, the US installed base for tablet devices will reach 24 million. And research from Pew Internet and American Life Project and Forrester Research shows buyers tend to be young, educated and wealthy.

“Savvy retailers are creating iPad shopping experiences that deepen their connections with customers,” said Grau. “The iPad is like a companion. There is also a certain sense of intimacy in curling up on a couch with the device. It inspires a serendipitous shopping experience, somewhat akin to browsing a catalog.”

In addition, retailers may have an even bigger opportunity in arming in-store sales associates with the devices. Thanks to the iPad, retail’s dream of web-enabled in-store kiosks providing additional product information and access to an “endless aisle” of goods may finally be realized.

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