Consumers Turn to Tablets for Shopping: ABI

Tablet owners are using the device for shopping logistics, such as price checking, using a coupon and location-based searches, according to the report.

A flood of tablet devices like the Apple iPad Mini, Amazon Kindle Fire and numerous others is having an impact on the daily lives of U.S. consumers, with a report from IT research firm ABI indicating that 22 percent of tablet users spend $50 or more per month and 9 percent spend $100 or more—much higher than spending levels observed by smartphone owners.

The tablet usage findings, which are part of ABI's Media Tablets and eReaders Research Service, also showed that the amount of cannibalization that a tablet has on traditional print and TV consumption varies. Indeed, tablets are increasingly used in conjunction with other media types (14 percent for TV, and 17 percent for newspapers and magazines), which can make the experience more immersive than static-only content engagement.

However, retail storefronts, which are already concerned about their venues turning into showrooms for eventual e-commerce purchases, have not yet been affected by on-device spending on physical and virtual goods, the report noted.

"Tablets are quickly becoming the go-to transaction screen within the home," Jeff Orr, ABI's mobile devices senior practice director, said in a statement. "The opportunity to keep consumers buying in-store squarely remains with the retailer. So far, the presence of a media tablet during the shopping experience has not altered the sales channel where consumers finally buy products."

At this point, consumers seem more interested in using tablets for logistics, such as price checking, using a coupon and location-based searches, which consistently rank as the most common activities (each performed by more than 50 percent of tablet shoppers in the previous 90 days) while shopping.

ABI estimates that at the close of 2012 nearly 200 million tablets will have shipped worldwide since 2009 and an additional 1 billion tablets are forecast to ship over the next 5 years. A recent report from the Consumer Electronics Association projected tablet sales would continue double-digit growth in 2013, with unit sales forecast to reach 116 million this year, up 45 percent from 2012, when 80 million tablets were sold to dealers. Industry revenues for tablets are expected to surpass $37 billion this year, compared with $31 billion in 2012, according to the report.

As tablets shift consumer preferences for shopping and accessing media content, they are also altering the overall PC landscape as they find favor with an increasing number of users. Tablets have dramatically affected the PC market, not so much by cannibalizing PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs, a recent Gartner report said.