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What does the word mobile mean? To many companies, including those in retail, mobile is used to describe any connected device that's portable.
That makes some sense: despite the fact that there are differences between the growing number of connected devices that can fit in a pocket or bag, there are often enough similarities, at least on the surface, to justify putting them in the same bucket. But can and should the all-encompassing use of mobile translate to strategy?
There is increasing evidence that the answer to that question is no.
The latest: according to a new report by Experian Marketing Services, tablet devices lend themselves to shopping far more than mobile devices. In a survey of thousands of consumers, Experian found that 39% of tablet owners have shopped using their tablets compared to just 8% of smartphone owners.
Experian's study also revealed some surprises. While other research has indicated that smartphones are more likely to be used for product research than tablets, this may not be an established truth. According to Experian, tablets beat out smartphones for research as well, with 38% of those in its study preferring to use tablets for research versus 15% who preferred smartphones. Even more surprising, and perhaps worthy of further investigation: Experian discovered that the individuals it polled were scanning barcodes with their tablets more than they were with their smartphones.
Two different markets, two different strategies?
Obviously, smartphone penetration is much greater than tablet penetration, so retailers should keep in mind that even if the percentage of tablet owners using their devices to engage in commerce is higher, there are still a lot of smartphone owners who are doing the same. They can't simply be ignored.
But when it comes to serving tablet and smartphone owners, the evidence is mounting that retailers need to consider that these two groups are distinct. While there is certainly overlap between tablets and smartphones as far as capabilities and characteristics go, there is enough in the way of differences, particularly when it comes to how consumers are actually using these devices, to warrant separate strategies going forward.