The tablet computer is a relatively new entrant into the consumer electronics marketplace, and in the grand scheme of things, only a fraction of Americans currently own and use one.
Yet, despite their smaller user base, tablets are being used to research products and make purchase online with such frequency that they have already overtaken smart phones as the preferred device for such shopping activities. So says newly-unveiled research by The E-tailing Group, as reported by eMarketer.
According to research, one out of every ten tablet computer owners has reported using their device for product browsing or purchasing online every single day. By comparison, only 6 percent of smart phone users could say the same.
Tablet owners aren’t just surpassing their smart phone counterparts when it comes to how often they rely on their device to shop; they’re also using tablets to buy more stuff. Almost one in four tablet users have made at least six purchases with them in the past six months, compared to roughly 15 percent of smart phone users. Smart phone users seem much more likely to NEVER use their devices to shop online at all than tablet customers as well, according to the research.
What’s more, tablet-based purchases outnumber smart phone transactions consistently over almost all major product categories. Only a small portion of more ‘mobile-friendly’ categories such as event tickets, food and music/videos favored smart phone buying.
Finally, tablet owners seem to be more satisfied with the shopping experiences they have with their devices than smart phone users.
All of this comes as a bit of a surprise to us, particularly given how large a gap there is right now between the number of tablet and smart phone users.
According to eMarketer, the U.S. tablet ‘installed base’ of users represented a mere 3.1 percent of the population in 2010. That figure is expected to more than double to 7.6 percent by the end of this year. But even then, smart phones will still outnumber tablets substantially: eMarketer estimates that smart phone ownership will swell to more than 23 percent of the population in 2011, up 4 points from last year.
Now, granted, tablet computers have one major thing going for them that would seem to nudge them ahead of smart phones when it comes to effective shopping: larger, more detailed screens. In fact, one of the biggest hang-ups about mobile commerce is that smart phone screens don’t allow a shopper to get the greatest look at what they’re shopping for. Nevertheless, while the iPad’s introduction last year came with a widely-held belief that the device would substantially change (or improve, depending on your opinion) e-commerce, even the biggest tablet fan probably didn’t see this kind of data emerging so soon.
But what do you think? Smart phone or tablet, which is best? Leave us your comment below!