Tablet Ownership Doubles, Now Critical Channel for Retailers

Retailers: if you haven't yet got a tablet app or optimized site, you're behind the curve. Earlier today the Pew Internet Project released data showing that between early December and January the population of US tablet users effectively doubled, from 10% to 19%. This is of course due to holiday gift giving.

If one were to extrapolate these figures out to the entire US population it would mean (by my quick calculation) roughly 45 million people now have tablets (distinct from eReaders). And by some measures Tablet users are more valuable than smartphone and even PC users. 

According to data released last week by Adobe, based on an analysis of 16 billion visits to top retailer websites, tablet owners spent more money and were more inclined to buy than smartphone owners and PC users:

  • Tablet Visitors spent over 50% more per purchase and were nearly three times more likely to purchase than Smartphone Visitors
  • Tablet Visitors spent over 20% more per purchase and were nearly as likely to make a purchase as Traditional Visitors

Tablet owners had slightly lower conversion rates, however, than PC users. And there is much less traffic coming from tablets vs. PCs. However there does appear to be some "cannibalization" going on.

Here are the top-level findings from Adobe's study (AOV is "average order value"):

Screen shot 2012-01-23 at 1.03.10 PM

There's plenty of other evidence that support's Adobe's finding that tablets are an important new commerce platform: 

Several recent studies have shown that retailers in particular are lagging in their adoption of optimized mobile sites and apps. The Pew data and Adobe findings should be a wake up call to retailers that they have to address tablets as a distinct channel.