Will the iPad prove a bonanza for retailers?

Robert Elding, marketing director of YUDU Media, investigates how the iPad will impact brands and what retailers can do to harness its potential.

Robert Elding
Robert Elding

Hardly a day goes by without Apple announcing another startling statistic. Using PR as its marketing weapon, its latest release cheerfully announces that one iPad flies off the shelves every every 3 seconds.

With 2 million units already sold and publishers announcing that the iPad will not only propel existing eReader trends but actually revolutionise the way we consume media, shouldn’t retailers now be looking at how they can maximise the iPad’s potential to drive sales?

Below are the three things I believe demonstrate that the iPad is perfectly suited for retailers to develop their digital platforms.

1. Digital catalogues generate more sales than websites: One of the UK’s top five mail order brands recently evaluated the performance of its website as opposed to its YUDU digital catalogue. The company’s main finding was that people tended to go to its website for a specific product already known to them. By contrast, eCatalogues were used for browsing (like their offline counterparts) and purchasing decisions were far more impulse-oriented.

The end result was that the average shopping basket value was significantly higher for the mail order brand’s eCatalogues than its ecommerce website.

2. The iPad is perfectly suited to online browsing: The Apple iPad is much more suited to browsing and ’online grazing’ than either a laptop or netbook. Easily held, light to the touch and extremely simple to navigate, the iPad will allow eCatalogues to come into their own.

The iPad is the perfect technological vehicle for digital catalogues. Embedded hyper-links and rich media product demonstrations will allow retailers to really bring their products to life and showcase them to their maximum. Crucially, the enhanced viewing experience will encourage purchasing.

3. Evidence already points to expanded browsing habits: An online visitor will spend 2.1 minutes per month at Vanityfair.com and 3.8 minutes per month at GQ.com. By contrast, according to Conde Nast, the same titles’ iPad Apps are seeing 60 minutes worth of online browsing. Wired magazine’s Scott Dadich simply says, “We’re looking to prove engagement in terms of hours, not minutes”. This is a staggering increase in viewing time and a major shift in online habits.

eCatalogues will follow the same trend upwards, with users engrossed in multi-media product demonstrations, direct links to shopping carts, background audio – all enhancing the shopping experience. Expect shopping baskets to benefit.

As one of the UK’s leading technology platforms for digital catalogues and iPad Apps, I feel strongly that the iPad will do for publishers what the iPod did for music.

Crucially, we also feel that this impact will extend into retailing with those high street brands willing to embrace the iPad seeing significant results. Shopping basket value will be higher and browsing habits extended.

Most importantly, we feel that the device will herald a revolution in the way retailers ’talk’ to their customers and a retailer’s iPad App will become one of the key engagement and loyalty tools in their armoury.

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