The tablet computer is a driver for several trends in the way users interact with technology. In the years since the iPad debuted, the markets for both consumer and enterprise IT have proven ready for the addition of the new device class. The convenience of a powerful and intuitive tablet has changed the way users work, relax and, importantly for retailers, it has changed the way they shop.
A recent market survey by the British Retail Consortium found that the percentage of shoppers educating themselves through tablets has increased. The new data indicated that 40 percent of searches for retail products during the second quarter of 2012. came from tablet computers. The strong new numbers told the researchers that consumers are prepared to use their tablet at home, rather than on the go. According to the study, some customers now use tablets to browse while staying home and watching TV and others use them when out of the house. The fact that they are functional in both arenas speaks well to tablets' growth potential.
Mobile searches were up, according to the BRC data, even when sales at conventional retail stores took a hit. The rapid growth of tablets as a market could become a differentiator for retailers. Tailoring transaction management systems to be easily viewable on a tablet screen could lead to capturing some of the many new mobile shoppers.
Tablet commerce also fits into the larger trends of mobile commerce and e-commerce, providing an argument against discontinuing efforts developed to take advantage of those markets. Tweaking supply chain management systems to ship objects directly to customers and making sure that warehouse management systems are heavily automated for greater agility still remain strong possibilities for companies wondering how best to capture the eyes and dollars of tablet shoppers.
New software direction
For the past few months, the iPad and competing tablet offerings from Samsung and Amazon have been widely discussed. The Sydney Morning Herald's recent discussion of enterprise computing trends focused on the waves in the marketplace likely to come from the introduction of new devices from Microsoft's Surface and the Google Nexus Q, a small tablet styled after the Kindle Fire. Those devices, according to the source, have completely taken the place of traditional desktop computers in their makers' presentations to the press. The indications point to a new technology climate, based in the cloud and with tablets as its primary gateway, in the home and office.