Tablets to swallow bigger slice of retail market

SMART phones may be more pervasive but it is tablet computers such as Apple's iPad that are having a more profound impact in driving consumers into the digital world, says a survey by the mobile ad network InMobi.

''Shopping on tablets is higher than smartphones and is the preferred device when looking to transact,'' the firm said of the global survey that included more than 630 Australians.

The adoption of tablets is expected to add to the decline of traditional retail, with the research showing 16 per cent of tablet owners had shopped less in a bricks-and-mortar store, 31 per cent read fewer paper books and 28 per cent read less print.

''In terms of growth, this is the area where tablet usage will start to explode in Australia as local retailers and publishers start to build out their tablet-specific experiences,'' InMobi said.

But tablets will play an important role in traditional stores too. On Friday, the Myer chief executive, Bernie Brookes, offered a glimpse into how its department stores are changing to combat the challenges of a digital world.

When the company's Fountain Gate store in Victoria opens later this year, the first thing shoppers will notice is that it will be nearly half the size of a traditional Myer store, with 10,000 square metres of floor space as opposed to the usual 17,000.

Just as important is the tool it will use to make this shrinkage possible: iPads. Rather than stock every permutation of product in-store, shoppers will be directed online from within the store.

''You don't need endless aisles of product when you can come into the store and get it delivered the following day rather than have a monster amount of inventory and the world's biggest stores,'' Mr Brookes said.

And as the company upgrades its online presence Mr Brookes said this could be used as a platform to push the department store into territory where a physical store would not make sense, mentioning areas such as Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

Under this scenario, online buyers in these areas will have a small Myer ''point-of-presence'' where they could pick up goods, or return them.

Myer and David Jones have admitted they are playing catch-up online, but they will need to act quickly, with Australian consumers continuing to be world champions when it comes to the adoption of new technology.

According to InMobi, smartphone penetration in Australia will reach 64 per cent this year, while 39 per cent of households will have at least one tablet.

The story Tablets to swallow bigger slice of retail market first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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