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UK a stronghold for tablet shoppers, but only with the silver surfers study finds

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Despite reports that tablet shipments are expected to decline 9.6% year on year in 2016, that growth of tablet based ecommerce has stalled that and new shoppers anecdotally not shopping on them, new research has found that tablet use for ecommerce is still high amongst consumers in the UK.

The finding was especially pronounced amongst consumers aged 55 and over, with twice as many (22%) using tablets for online purchasing than their US (11%) and Australian peers (11%).

The study, by Bronto Software and NetSuite polled 4000 respondents in the US, Australia and the UK to explore how mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, laptops and wearables – are affecting consumer shopping behaviours globally. It found that the UK (60%) not only has a higher level of tablet ownership than Australia (54%) or the US (57%), but that British consumers also use the device more frequently when making a purchase (34%), compared with the US (25%) and Australia (19%), as shown below.

The data further revealed that the use of smartphones for ecommerce plummets for UK consumers aged over 45. While smartphone ownership amongst the over 45s (76%) is higher than tablet ownership (60%), over a quarter (27%) use their tablets to make a purchase, compared to only 20% who use their smartphones. This suggests that despite strong smartphone penetration in this generation and the average smartphone screen size increasing to 4.7”, Baby Boomers still prefer the screen real estate of a tablet device when making an online purchase.

Multi-device behaviour of global consumers

The research found that men and women in the UK are equally likely to shop via their smartphones (37%), whereas in the US, men are more likely to use their smartphone (43%) than women (35%). The findings also show that more British women (37%) shop on their smartphones than female consumers in the US (35%) and Australia (30%).

In some cases, the demographics seem to drive behaviour differences regardless of geographical location. Across all three markets, men own more devices and use them more for purchasing compared to women. Younger age groups are more likely to buy online using a smartphone. In the US and UK, two-thirds (65%) of consumers aged 18-24 years old have made a purchase using a smartphone, compared to 55% in Australia.

The research also uncovered that consumers worldwide are diversifying their device portfolios. Looking at the device spectrum of desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and wearables, consumers in all three countries own three of the five devices on average.

Saima Alibhai, Practice Manager – Professional Services at Bronto Software, explains: “As the UK and US share a lot of history, culture and language, there is a misconception that consumer behaviour across the Atlantic is similar to the UK. However, UK retailers looking to engage consumers in the US need to be mindful that device preferences and ownership change as much between countries as between various demographics. Understanding the specifics and adjusting strategies accordingly will ensure that the shopping experience – from browse to buy – is tailored to the audience and drives results.”

The research shows that retailers need to actively support all device categories to suit the varying preferences in each country. With a third of UK consumers shopping on tablets, the tablet is still a crucial part of the device puzzle. Especially retailers targeting the Baby Boomer generation will benefit from a tailored approach which embraces the device category’s unique combination of a mobile operating system on a large screen.

This is not the first time we have looked into the demise of the tablet and found it not to be the case. Back in April, we looked at how the tablet might be slipping as an ecommerce channel, however, the rise of couch commerce is stymying that drop.

To find out more or download this report, visit ‘How Consumers Across the Globe Use Multiple Devices to Shop and Buy‘.

For country-specific findings, see:

The figures directly contradict the latest IMRG figures for ecommerce for June, which find that growth of sales made on tablets continued to nosedive, with YoY growth at just 0.4%. This is the lowest figure registered since YoY monitoring began in 2013. Conversely, sales on smartphones grew 69% YoY, following extremely strong growth of 117% YoY in June 2015.

The discrepancy is down to the fact that IMRG is measuring growth, whereas Bronto is looking at sales. There is also probably issues in the age groups being assessed, with tablet ecommerce skewed towards older users.

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