We discovered some interesting information about how consumers are using tablets in recent research with Bizrate Insights: that shoppers who have tablets often prefer to browse and buy on those devices and that tablet ownership increases the amount of time that people spend online altogether.  One company that caught onto that trend even before we fielded our data was Siva Kumar, CEO of the shopping aggregator TheFind.  I ran into Siva several months ago at Channel Advisor's Catalyst summit where he showed me an impressive demo (on his iPad, natch) of Catalogue, a magazine-like compendium of all my favorite store catalogs (see below).  Given his hands-on experience bringing a multiretailer tablet experience to life, I thought it would be interesting to get a t-commerce pioneer's POV:

Siva, do you think tablet commerce will be something retailers need to explicitly watch?

Absolutely yes. Online shopping today is very much a chore. It is search-driven, and while search is useful, expedient, and powerful, it is not particularly fun or exciting. More importantly, search leaves little room for retailers to do what they do best, which is to merchandise their wares to consumers.  Conversely, tablet shopping, with its high-resolution graphics, touchscreens, and more tactile interactivity offer game changing potential that may create the means by which eCommerce could grow to be as much as 20% of retail commerce by 2020. 

What are the most important things to watch in developing content for a tablet device?

First and foremost, every retail marketing executive should buy an iPad and really use it. You have to understand how people interact with content on the device, and you have to know firsthand that iPads and tablets more generically are not simply laptops without keyboards. This is an entirely new platform that people are using with rapidly increasing frequency. Specifically, retailers need to watch for things on their existing sites that don’t mesh with the tablet experience. For instance, you can’t have mouse-driven controls like pop-up windows or very small radio buttons; you have to think about your experience in a swipe-oriented way. Sites that have done a good job of this already are TechCrunch and ABC News. Also, retailers should keep in mind that Flash is not compatible with the iPad and they should work to remove it from their eCommerce sites if they want to capture tablet shoppers. 

What other devices do we need to watch for as retailers? 

Internet-enabled TV devices like Google and Apple TVs. These could prove to be potent commerce platforms, partially driven by the success of tablets.  The OSes in smart TVs are similar to those in tablets, and the work done in optimizing your site for tablets should have a lot of relevancy on smart TVs as well. 

TheFind Catalogue Cover