The iPad is revolutionizing mobile shopping.

New data from The 2012 Q1 Shopping Insights™ Mobile Study shows that:

  • iPad users now account for about two-thirds (68 percent) of mobile shoppers.
  • The iPad drives a whopping 90 percent of all mobile revenue (and 4 percent of total retail revenue).
  • Conversion rates were strongest with the iPad (1.5 percent for iPad vs. 0.57 percent for other mobile devices).
  • Compared with all other mobile devices, average pages per session were highest for the iPad, at nearly six pages per session (5.7 for iPads vs. 3.6 for iPhone vs. 4.1 for other mobile devices).
  • The iPad had the highest average order value (AOV) of any mobile device: $158 for iPad vs. $105 for other mobile devices vs. $104 for iPhone and other iOS devices in March 2012.
  • Interestingly, AOV for iPad shopping is even creeping ahead of the AOV from desktop computers ($158 for iPad vs. $153 from desktops).

These results indicate consumers continue to embrace mobile shopping, and tablet users are leading the charge. What can you do to appeal to this new generation of tablet-centric consumers?

Make it enjoyable

Anyone who has used one knows: The iPad is a fun and immersive experience. Touch the screen and an entire world of media and information is at your fingertips. It’s almost as though you’re invited to play with each piece of content.

How can your brand stand out in this format? What will make your app – and yes, if you’re going to compete in tablet computing, you have to have an app – compelling and engaging? What unique aspect of your product/service can you leverage in app form, and how can that translate into effective marketing?

For inspiration, take a look at Gap’s 1969 jeans app –an innovative way of interacting with the Gap brand. Not only can consumers check out the company’s product lines, mix and match outfits, share via social media channels, find a store via a geo-locator, get designer tips and exclusive content, but they can also purchase directly from their mobile device.


Simplicity is one of the linchpins to the tablet computing experience. Tablet computers (and especially the iPad) aren’t designed for the dormant hacker that some argue resides in all of us. Tablets are designed for everyone. (They’re so simple a three-year old can use one, remember?) Your messaging needs to be just as user-friendly.

In other words, don’t make information difficult to find . . . and don’t just sell. Instead, make the layout appealing to touch, and make the presentation relevant, convenient and engaging. If you do, you’ll make the most of the tablet format, and you’ll make the most of consumers’ ever-more-precious time. As the variety of digital channels continues to expand, your customers are finding themselves bombarded with brand messages. Can you blame them for running low on patience for content that seems too complicated? Keep it simple. Focus on images/video (rather than text), provide clear calls-to-action, include direct links to any actions, etc.

Encourage purchasing

With its easy-to-use interface, the iPad is a prime tool to encourage online browsing, and so it’s no surprise that a recommendation engine can yield big benefits in this context. (Think of other recommendation engines you know, such as those in use by Amazon, Netflix, or Pandora.)

As outlined here, recommendations fall into four broad categories:

  • Personalized recommendations – based on the user’s past behavior
  • Social recommendations – based on the past behavior of similar users
  • Item recommendations – based on the product/service itself
  • A combination of the three approaches above

Recommendations give customers a gentle nudge towards a purchase they may not have considered. They’re the sweet spot between online browsing and searching –and when coupled with an intuitive app and the ease of tablet computing, they can boost sales.

Integrate messaging

Tablets empower consumers with digital communication that’s available 24/7 at the touch of a finger. That makes tablets a great format to integrate your apps, company website, videos, social media channels – virtually everything. Variability can erode the value of your product or service, so hone in on the messaging that works and use it consistently across all channels, (whether traditional or digital). Also, capitalize on the tablet as a force multiplier by making certain your content can be easily shared via social networks.

Aim for weekend, evening appeal

In addition to the findings outlined above, The RichRelevance study also found that iPads “rule the weekend.” According to the survey results:

  • The iPad share of shopping sessions (viewing, not necessarily buying) increases on the weekends, reaching 7 percent on weekends vs. 5 percent during the week.
  • The iPad’s share of sessions climbs in the evening hours, from around 5 pm until 9 pm, reaching 9.45 percent at 9 p.m., rising from a low point (.4 percent) at 3 a.m.
  • In comparison, traffic from all other mobile devices is stable on weekdays and weekends, accounting for about 1.3 percent of all sessions
  • On average, about 6 percent of all orders originate on mobile devices (iPad included) on weekends vs. 4 percent on weekdays.

What do those results mean for marketers? They mean you can leverage an engaging, relevant app to appeal to the customer who wants to kick back with their tablet and relax on weekends and/or after hours. An iPad is a fun, easy-to-use digital device –but it’s not a laptop or at all similar to the computers we all use at our jobs. Tablets are devices consumers want to use, not ones they necessarily have to use. They’re more versatile than smartphones and, let’s be honest –they’re just plain cool. Design your tablet content to appeal to consumers when they’re ready to have some fun.

New research is making it clear that marketers can no longer think of “mobile” as one big group containing both smartphones and tablets. Tablets are emerging as a separate category, one that needs to be recognized for its wide consumer appeal and unique marketing potential.