iPad shoppers driving rise in internet retail

SHOPPERS are using tablet computers three times more than they were just 12 months ago thanks to an explosion in ownership, according to new figures.

Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), in collaboration with Google, have revealed that retail searches on tablets such as Apple’s iPad rose by 198 per cent in the first three months of 2013, compared to a year previously. Searches on smartphones were up 66 per cent, while total searches – also including PCs – have increased by 16 per cent.

The rising number of devices with which consumers are browsing the web has posed a challenge to online retailers, due to the difficulties associated with creating tablet and smartphone-friendly shopping experiences. While consumers are eager to window shop on touchscreen devices, tablet and smartphone users are less likely to complete a transaction on them than on a PC, due to perceived access and security issues.

However, online retailers are also betting on the portability of smartphones and tablets driving an increase in sales, since they can instantly compare prices whilst on the high street.

“These figures confirm how tablets and smartphones are becoming increasingly integral to the shopping experience for many of us, whether we’re at home or on the move, and from research to purchase,” Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s director-general, said. “It’s easier than ever to compare prices and products online, and retailers are continuing to invest in their websites and their ‘omnichannel’ offer so that customers have choice, convenience and flexibility.”