When the first iPad launched on 3 April 2010, opinions were split on how popular the device would be, and whether there even was a market for tablets.

Technology expert Rhi Morgan at T3 Magazine commented back then:

I can’t see anybody who needs a laptop buying an iPad, and I can’t see people using it as a smartphone either.

While the iPad was not the first tablet on the market, it turned out to be a trailblazer for an entire device category, successfully establishing tablets as the perfect mid-way device between a smartphone and a laptop.

Our research recently found that 60% of UK adults now own a tablet – that’s as many as 22.8m of us.

It’s impressive to think that, in just six years, we have disregarded any reluctance we may have initially had and embraced the tablet into our lives. 

The iPad is still the fastest selling Apple product of all times with more than 225m sold in the first five years –  that's quite something up against the iPhone and iPod.

But a new generation of alternative devices, namely larger smartphones and smartwatches, may herald its end.

I have recently seen articles talking about the death of the tablet.

Is the tablet the modern day equivalent of Concorde - an amazing, ubiquitously famous innovation but whose time and place in the world was ultimately limited and pertinent to a particular era? 

In fact, tablet shipments are expected to decline 9.6% year on year in 2016. But we found that British consumers still use tablets to shop.

The UK (60%) not only has a higher level of tablet ownership than Australia (54%) or the US (57%), but also British consumers use the device more frequently when making a purchase (34%), compared with the US (25%) and Australia (19%).

We also found that in the last 12 months, the time UK consumers spend shopping on their tablets has increased by a healthy proportion (48%), topped only by smartphones (54%).

Some sources suggest that younger age groups barely use tablets at all because of the huge appeal of smartphones, but our research shows the age group with the greatest propensity to purchase via tablet is 25-34 (39%).

Tablets also prove popular in the Baby Boomer generation which embraces the device category’s unique combination of a mobile operating system on a large screen.

Twice as many UK consumers aged over 55 (22%) use tablets for online purchasing than their US (11%) and Australian peers (11%).

With a third of UK consumers shopping on tablets, the gadget is still a crucial part of the device puzzle.

No matter whether customers are using a smartphone, smartwatch, laptop or indeed a tablet - it’s very important to cater to everyone.

The shopping and purchasing experience with your brand needs to span all the devices used by your target audience.

So track closely which devices your customers use to visit your website or open your emails. Monitor the differences in device usage over the day.

For example, if your ecommerce store shows a peak in smartphone traffic in the morning when people browse on their way to work, target your email sends accordingly.

Also analyse when, and on which device, customers make the actual purchase.

Many people prefer to buy on a larger device, such as a tablet, laptop or desktop, when they’re at home in the evening. 

Understanding the specifics of your audience and adjusting strategies accordingly will ensure that the shopping experience, from browse to buy on whatever device, is seamless, tailored to your customers and drives results.

Saima Alibhai

Published 19 August, 2016 by Saima Alibhai

Saima Alibhai is Practice Manager - Professional Services at Bronto.

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