Many industry experts have focused on the iPad and other tablets’ potential to revolutionize media consumption, but as it continues to gain popularity, it may end up as an even bigger game-changer for retail m-commerce. Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads in 2010. Research from IDC predicts that 44.6 million tablets will be shipped worldwide in 2011, growing to 70.8 million units in 2012. Needless to say, it’s time to talk about how tablets are changing how, where, and when we shop.
Last week in an INNOVATE session called The Skinny On Tablet Shopping: What Works for Retail Innovators, executives Chris Maliwat, VP Product Management at Gilt Groupe and Munjal Shah, Director of Product Shopping at Google, discussed iPad usage as well as the specific application from Gilt Groupe, a first-mover in the iPad retail application market.
The stats are fascinating. According to Shah, most iPad owners have downloaded more than 20 apps. Additionally, the iPad has become a primary device for almost 30% of owners, with 20% of the usage time taking place in bed and most usage taking place in early morning, evening, and weekend hours.
Releasing the first iPad retail application, Gilt Groupe now provides a luxury online, flash-sales shopping destination to over four million members. As of January 2011, they have approximately 100,000 active monthly iPad users in the United States, with over 33% of users shopping on the weekend. The Gilt Groupe team has created a fantastic and unique user experience for their iPad users, even moving away from their current website experience. With beautiful pages that feel more like an editorial magazine than category or product pages, the iPad experience is focused on optimization for touch with a smooth transition, as well as on the product images themselves.
One of the most expensive items ever sold on Gilt Groupe, a vintage Rolex watch, was recently sold for $24,000 to an iPad user. With order values 30% higher on the iPad than their website or iPhone application, their focus on the experience to engage their users is working.
The iPad and other tablets may only be a year old, but retailers, like Gilt Groupe, who have pioneered tablet application development and website optimization have already acquired important learnings for what can make or break the success of a customer’s tablet-based experience.
To wrap up the session, Shah asked Maliwat about lessons learned after the development of the Gilt Groupe iPad application. To that question Maliwat responded with these insights:
• Gilt Groupe expected their iPad to perform in similar ways to their website. They’ve been right so far.
• People are looking at Gilt Groupe for content – not just commerce – so they continue to bring their members an editorial magazine design, or look book, experience.
• They thought they were going to be done when they launched the application, but have to continuously focus on improving stability, speed, and image load times. Expect to have a few cycles to launch and learn.
• They were so ahead of the curve at the launch date that they did not originally dedicate all of the right resources. They now have a team focused entirely on mobile.
• They advise others to think about what’s next as well as the value of brand content and assets across different platforms and mobile devices.
As we see consumers continue to adopt the iPad and other tablet devices, retailers with applications and mobile optimized websites are going to be ahead of the game. The question is not IF you should act with regard to the iPad and other tablets, but HOW you should execute your tablet and mobile consumer experiences for maximum effectiveness. And most importantly, after launch, remember to keep innovating and re-testing for optimal customer experience.