iPad and the retailer

The iPad launched in the UK last week and despite widespread agreement that it’s a fantastic piece of technology, what use does it have for retail brands?

Rosie Baker

AdAge, a US advertising news site, said in April, about a month after the iPad’s US release that although things were relatively quiet on the apps front from retailers, the iPad was set to revolutionise retail.

These are pretty big claims, but I think commentators in every industry have made some kind of sweeping statement about what the iPad means, be it to publishing, e-commerce or gaming.

The potential for what retailers could do with iPad is immense. But, they face the same problem that media publishers face, which is how to how to create a service they can monetise that users actually need and want.

AdAge listed six areas it believes iPad will have an impact on retail: catalogs, customisation, sales floor assistant, personal shopping, registries and e-commerce, but I think the most interesting aspect is how it, along with other mobile internet devices, will change the concept of the shopper journey and the potential to engage with customers at any point in time.

Bloggers in the US have called retailers response to the iPad underwhelming with very few jumping aboard the iPad bandwagon, and the case in the UK appears to be the same.

Having had an iPad in my possession for almost a week now, I’m of the opinion that while there is scope to do great things with it, I don’t think anyone, the retail industry included, knows what the iPad is going to do, or indeed what it’s for.

I’ve downloaded some apps, surfed the internet, checked my email, I’ve surfed the internet using my desktop and iPad concurrently in a swirl of multi-tasking, but can I do anything useful with the iPad that I couldn’t do before using a laptop, mobile phone or MP3 player?

After playing with a wholly pointless but fleetingly entertaining virtual aquarium and furnishing it with virtual fish, I set about looking for retail apps that I could make use of. I came up with nothing. Not a single app from a retailer that would revolutionise my interaction with the brand.

I’ve visited retailers e-commerce sites browsing Argos and Millets for camping equipment, while the iPad does make it easy to scroll through catalogue listings and jump between pages, I could have done that on my PC.

At a presentation last week, Affiliate Window managing director Mark Walters, said that the iPad “would create its own use”.

Let’s just hope it does it soon.

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