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Apparel Shoppers Grab Their Tablets

Tablets responsible for most mobile revenue in the apparel category

Tablets are becoming more commonplace in the hands of US consumers and their use more evident when examining digital shopping behaviors. In 2012, tablets for the first time were responsible for a majority of US retail mcommerce sales, and that share will expand further in the coming years, eMarketer predicts. Now, as tablet adoption widens, retailers and brands across an expanding spectrum of product categories, including apparel, are beginning to pay closer attention to the presence of those devices in the overall ecommerce ecosystem, according to a new eMarketer report, “Tablets and Apparel: Fashioning a Role in Mobile Commerce.”

In the apparel category, mobile doesn’t create as much sales revenue as desktop, but it’s growing faster by far, according to MarketLive research comparing the third quarters of 2012 and 2013. While smartphones drove a greater percentage of traffic than tablets did in both quarters, tablets were responsible for more than triple the revenue.

Tablet shopping behavior is starting to become distinct, borrowing from both smartphones and desktops, so retailers must now focus on creating tools and features that capitalize on tablets’ strengths while downplaying the devices’ shortcomings.

Gilt Groupe, for one, emphasizes different experiences for smartphones and tablets based on how its shoppers use the two devices. As a flash sale site, speed means everything to Gilt, so its smartphone site is leaner and less image heavy for quicker transactions, according to Jason John, vice president of marketing at the company. Gilt’s tablet experience is geared toward longer, more casual shopping sessions, so high-resolution photos, for example, are used to take advantage of the latest iPad’s retina display and create “a more editorial feel,” he said. “People also say that they browse more at nighttime, in a more relaxed atmosphere with their iPads, so having that editorial feel really helped with that type of behavior.”

The tablet checkout process has also been a hindrance to greater ecommerce conversion. While inconsistency in site experience between tablets and ecommerce sites was the leading reason why tablet owners surveyed by shopping search engine TheFind in March 2013 said tablets were not their preferred online shopping device, checkout issues was the second-highest reason, cited by more than one-third of respondents.

These concerns are not unfounded. In an L2 Think Tank survey, only 21% of retailers had one-page checkouts on their tablet sites, and just 10% let buyers complete purchases within an app.


The full report, “Tablets and Apparel: Fashioning a Role in Mobile Commerce,” also answers these key questions:

  • How are tablets driving US mobile commerce?
  • How do apparel shoppers use tablets?
  • Are apps a must-have for apparel retailers?
  • Does responsive design make sense for all retailers?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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