Tablet commerce is the next big thing

If you’re reading this in the middle of 2013 you might be wondering what is “t-commerce”. Google it. You still won’t find much hype compared to “m-commerce”. So, why am I so confident that this is the next big thing?

What is t-commerce?

This is a bit of a slang made-up word. It means lots of things, among which is “Tablet commerce”. But let’s read between the lines. The mere fact that someone has forged a term to denote this portion of e-commerce means that something is going on. It means that tablet users have become so important that we need to take special care of them.

t-commerce is on the rise

This report from Google trend shows the obvious rise in the interest in t-commerce. Notice the sudden spike in the late 2010? After that the trend starts growing steadily. That is when Apple released their first iPad and rebooted our perception of the tablet market.

How important are tablet users really?

We all know that none of the jibber-jabber above means a thing if I don’t talk numbers.


is the growth of tablet shipments year over year, measured in the first quarter of 2013, according to IDC’s report.

To be able to determine the impact of tablet market growth on e-commerce, we have to know what people are using them for. If they are not using them for shopping there is no point in talking about t-commerce at all.

What are tablets used for?

An interesting fact from the statistics is that tablets are mostly used at home. In fact, I find the definition of Luke Wroblewski is the most accurate—”[…] they’re much more “mobile in the home” than mobile.”

This statement is worth elaborating on.

Being in the comfort of their home defines what do people use their tablets for?

Imagine yourself lying on the couch with your tablet in hand. What is your main activity? You don’t have to look at the statistics to answer this question, but still, here are some more numbers:


use tablets for browsing the web, Yahoo says. This includes checking mail, reading the news, checking the weather forecast and, of course, shopping.


of tablet owners use them for online shopping, according to Adobe.

Adding the “T” to m-commerce

So far I should have convinced you that it is important to be t-commerce ready. That means you have to make your tablet users happy, i.e. you need to provide them with a great user experience. But first, let’s see what are the constraints and features of the device that your potential customers use.

Several unique features distinguish tablets from both smartphones and desktops:

  • Larger screens than smartphones
  • More resources than smartphones
  • Primarily used for entertainment and information consumption
  • Tablets are multi-touch enabled

Great user experience = Good looking content + Convenient navigation

Considering the above characteristics of tablets and the statistics about tablet users, what would be crucial for the happiness of tablet shoppers?

What should you look for or aim for in a tablet theme to provide great user experience?

A good-looking tablet theme will:

  • use the large screen real estate to feature more products, promotions, tools
  • focus the customer on the main purpose of the site—shopping
  • use a harmonious colour scheme to convey the message of the brand

A convenient to use tablet theme will:

  • place the navigation at the easiest to reach places on the screen. For example, it is easier to tap the bottom and closely to the sides of the screen when you hold a tablet with both hands.
  • respond to touch gestures
  • be optimized to respond quickly to user interaction
  • allow fast and easy checkout, which we all know is the most painful and most important aspect of online commerce.

Have you got an e-commerce tablet theme? Do you also think that t-commerce will be the next hit? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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