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A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Does Your iPad Put A Spell On You?

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Tablets have a magic quality that makes more people shop.

Apple’s iPad 2 ads have called the tablet “almost magical.” Now research suggests one of its best magic tricks is encouraging users to shop.

Tablet users shop more frequently and spend more, according a new report from Forrester Research, detailed in The Wall Street Journal this week. Roughly 5% of consumers shop via tablet, compared to 3% of laptop and desktop users. What’s more, retailers say tablet users place bigger orders—in some cases spending 10% to 20% more than computer or smartphone users.

Of course, there are some practical reasons why tablet users shop more frequently than those using other devices. Tablets are lighter, more portable and easier to use, so consumers spend more time browsing the web. And people who can afford to buy an iPad for $499 — which analysts still largely consider a luxury purchase — are likely to have the disposable income for online shopping sprees. “[Early adopters] are more willing to take risks,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute LLC, a marketing firm. “They’re more likely in the fields of technology, media and financial services, so they’re more open-minded when it comes to shopping online.” (Apple was unavailable for comment.)

The iPad’s touch screen and apps also make shopping more relaxing, fun and unreal. “It’s a little like Monopoly meets Avatar,” says Matt Wallaert, social and behavior psychologist of digital strategy firm Churnless.com. LJ Shrum, president of the Society for Consumer Psychology, likens the tablet to shopping in a store with soft carpet and relaxing elevator music: “The iPad is the Saks Fifth Avenue of online shopping.” If your credit card information is on file with the app or retailer, sometimes buying is as fast as a few clicks. That ease makes consumers feel they have already opened their wallet, says Utpal M. Dholakia, professor of management at Rice University in Houston, Tx. “It breaks down the resistance to shop,” he says.

Does your tablet put a shopping spell on you?

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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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