To Sell Stuff Online, Make It Easy to Buy in the Bathroom


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Thanks to the Apple iPad and other tablets, people are now shopping on the couch, in the bed, and in the kitchen, not to mention the most comfortable of “lean-back” environments: the bathroom.

In a soon-to-be-published survey, Boston-based SeeWhy asked more than 1,000 U.S. tablet owners where they used their devices to make purchases. Ten percent of respondents admitted that they had bought something while on the john, or at least in its vicinity. The bathroom actually placed last out of all locations in the home, after the living room (44 percent), bedroom (23 percent), kitchen (19 percent), and outside (14 percent), but this WC stat still shows just how powerful tablets are becoming as a virtual storefront.

If you can get people to buy in the bathroom, you can get them to buy anywhere.

SeeWhy makes marketing software aimed at bringing potential customers back to online shopping sites if they’ve left without buying anything. Along with its survey, the company also analyzed more than 21 million transactions from thousands of clients on its platform. Their study found that when shopping on a mobile device, customers were three times as likely to buy something when using a tablet than when using a smartphone.

Charles Nicholls, founder and chief strategy officer for SeeWhy, says that tablets are succeeding at shopping because people use them in a way — and at a time — they don’t use any other device.

“You find that you’ve got this evening pattern of recreational shopping that doesn’t happen on desktops in the same way,” Nicholls says.

If someone is at home and has a choice between a tablet and a phone, Nicholls says they’ll overwhelmingly reach for the tablet for shopping. Small screens still make the multi-step buying process painful on smartphones, he says, while tablets typically approximate the experience of shopping on a PC.

At the same time, desktops and laptops don’t lend themselves to the, ahem, same versatility of venue as tablets do. Nicholls didn’t say this, but I will: Taking your tablet into the bathroom is almost the same as taking a magazine. Even the thinnest laptops can’t do that.

Other research has come to similar conclusions (though not specifically about the bathroom). Market research firm eMarketer says patterns are starting to emerge around different uses for different-sized screens, especially around shopping. More consumers will shop on their smartphones than on their tablets this year (102 million versus 94 million), but only because more people own smartphones than tablets, eMarketer estimates. And the firm predicts that millions more of those shoppers will actually buy something using their tablets than their phones.

Clark Fredricksen, vice president at eMarketer, concurs that tablets have driven the concept of “recreational” online shopping. Most online shopping that takes place on PCs happens at work during the day, he says. People who would be less inclined to power up their laptops or desktops once they got home at night don’t have the same resistance to using their tablets.

And more of those people may not have PCs at home at all.


Read more at WIRED

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