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14/07/2010 by

iPad Next Gateway To Brands & Commerce?

In our agency presentation we explain why the iPhone and iPad are the next gateways to brands, communities and shopping. See how many brands will grow their eCommerce revenues with the iPad…

Its visually oriented touch screen is already being used by retailers such as eBay, Amazon, Gap and Gilt Groupe with commerce apps that take specific advantage of the form factor. But that’s likely just the beginning.

“The iPhone strategy [for commerce] has been about browsing and store locating with efforts focused on driving people to the stores. But the iPad strategy is much more about purchasing on the device,” said Raven Zachary, president of iOS agency Small Society.

So while magazine reading and entertainment viewing are getting the early consumer buzz on the iPad, the real play for brands may be as an e-commerce platform.

Commerce and on-the-go buying has been successful on the iPhone, but the small screen size and limited visuals have shortchanged many efforts. The iPad brings the capability for better graphics and video, a touch screen for an experience more akin to catalog shopping, social networking, an easier way to swipe or touch to buy, and even cost saving and green appeal with the use of less paper for weekly flyers and catalogs.

“The iPhone was the first shot,” said Ray Grady, exec VP at Acquity Group consultancy. “It changed the retail paradigm and showed retailers how to deal with smartphones initially. The iPad is a different flavor of the same dish … but what we’re seeing is that there are more actual transactions on the iPad than the iPhone.”

At one of my agencies LaComunidad we are creating our third iPhone App and the second iPad App this year.

As strategist I keep looking surprised and think out loud: how is it possible that small screen apps (with i.e. Augmented Reality and Geo Locations) can have such extended functional scopes?

And once the information architects and interaction designers are done, the visual designers will have to do their work twice, since an iPhone and iPad App has a horizontal and a vertical version.

Catalogs are a seemingly natural fit for iPad. Well-designed print catalogs are browsed, read and shared just like magazines, so why shouldn’t the venerable Sears catalog become a touchable e-catalog on the iPad?

Sears was vague but indicated it might consider it. Imran Jooma, senior VP-ecommerce, wrote in an e-mail interview, “Sears is a leader in virtual catalogs, such as last years’ digital Wish book. The point is to give the customer the choices that utilize these emerging technologies … their adoption and valuable feedback will determine much of the direction for the future.”

He added that Sears is already dedicated to mobile commerce, and offers more mobile apps than many of its retail competitors.

Digital publisher Dirxion is working on digital catalogs built for the iPad with the first group coming next month. Brad Gorman, mobile and iPad manager, said the company has got plenty of retailers who aren’t just interested, but are “begging to be in the beta test.”

Five of the current top 10 free iPad apps are shopping-themed: eBay, Amazon Mobile, Zillow and two Craigslist apps. And three of the other 10 apps — two recipes and one home decor — include shopping features and functions. (The remaining apps are media: HGTVtoGo and Reader’s Digest magazine.)

But brands interested in commerce on the iPad should be willing to design and optimize for the device. “Don’t half-ass it out of the gate and give the customer a terrible experience,” warned Mr. Grady.

Some tips we stole from Advertising Age for you are listed below…

Best Tips for Catalogs on the iPad:

Consider the options. Do you need a full iPad app, or will an optimized website work for your audience? Or maybe a downloadable .pdf catalog instead of an app? Keep in mind that iPad owners, especially these early adopters, tend to be tech-savvy with higher expectations than the average consumer.

Go native. Users want native iPad apps, not just ported mobile apps or web pages. If you are going to design a specific catalog app, use the same style and even some elements from other media, but also incorporate the unique ability of the touch screen and visual, sound and graphics capabilities.

Think about the transition. If you want your customers to switch from print to digital, consider how you will help them switch. A catalog in a mailbox serves as a reminder to browse and shop online. If you create a digital catalog, don’t forget to give your customers a reminder — maybe an e-mail or direct-mail postcard — that new merchandise has arrived.

Don’t rush. Remember there are only 3 million iPad owners so far — compared to 100 million iPhone and iPod touch owners. And the iPad still isn’t global. Better to take the time to do a quality catalog then rush one out the door. That said, it’s also a new playing field, and there’s a first-mover advantage.

Source: Beth Snyder Bulik’s article on Advertising Age.


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