How the ‘New iPad’ Will Drive Better Online Shopping Experiences
The release of Apple’s latest version of the iPad has once again created a buying frenzy among Apple aficionados. Called simply the “New iPad,” the device is being touted as a solid upgrade from iPad 2. Not necessarily a game changer, but a device that delivers noticeable improvements on previous versions’ most important features (mainly the high-resolution retina display).
Beyond satiating the appetite of Apple’s die-hard fan base, the new iPad clearly has the potential to deliver some important wins for retailers interested in leveraging high-quality visual experiences to forge more meaningful connections with consumers.
With mobile commerce sales expected to reach $10 billion in 2012, retailers are scrambling to identify new strategies to capture their share of the marketplace. The latest version of the iPad will play a role in the growth of mobile and e-commerce in 2012, but to reap maximum benefits retailers will need to understand the new iPad’s key features and how to leverage those features for bottom-line results.
Since it’s an Apple device, the caveat is that retailers have to opt for non-Flash HTML5 technology if they want their multimedia content to have any impact on consumers using the new iPad. For those who are already doing so or plan to in the near future, however, there are three key features of the new iPad that will influence online shopping experiences:
1. Clarity and resolution. At 3.1 million megapixels (the most ever in a mobile device), the new iPad’s retina display screen offers exceptional 2048 x 1536 resolution — effectively doubling the resolution of the iPad 2. For many users, the new iPad’s resolution will greatly improve browsing capabilities, helping to transform mobile websites into a much more visually dynamic experience.
Equipped with sharper resolution, consumers will be less reliant on zoom when viewing your brand’s product descriptions and images. They’ll also discover that it’s much easier to navigate products online, which will inevitably increase conversion rates since fewer shoppers will abandon retail sites due to navigational difficulties.
Most importantly, the new iPad’s retina display gives retailers the ability to boost sales through the expanded use of high-performing visual offerings, including crisper photography, 360° imagery and online video elements that create even more engaging user experiences.
2. Speed and immediacy. The new iPad’s processor, the Apple A5X, significantly improves upon the iPad 2’s processing capabilities, delivering faster and more reliable video loading through quad-core graphics technology. This is crucial for retailers who leverage online video to boost sales, as many consumers grow impatient with video that takes too long to load and abandon your site (and possibly their already full shopping cart) as a result.
Not only is the upgraded processor good news for iPad users, it’s also a big deal for retailers since it clears a path for the use of HTML5, non-Flash technology without worrying about slow content downloads or the integrity of video content on the device. Since high-quality video is such a powerful tool that online retailers can use to connect consumers to their brands and product lines, it’s especially important to find ways to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the new iPad’s upgrades.
3. Unrestricted, anytime access. The new iPad’s 4G LTE connectivity offers the most comprehensive support for networks worldwide, simplifying international roaming. With fast download and upload speeds, mobile websites load quickly and video downloads become more accessible to consumers in the context they prefer.
Improved connectivity reinforces a key trend in the development of exceptional user experiences — the need for anytime, anywhere access to brands and product information. By optimizing online multimedia content for the new iPad, retailers can engage consumers with extremely high-quality product content, regardless of the consumer’s location.
Other new features, including iSight (the new iPad’s 5-megapixel camera), may also have applications for retailers. The most important advantage the new iPad gives retailers is the ability to improve the quality of the visual experience and delivery method for the multimedia content consumers now consider to be part of a first-rate experience with your brand.
Some companies are well-positioned for these technological advances because they’ve already made the move to dynamic content in anticipation of the devices that can handle it. For example, Zappos.com has thousands of product review videos and most, if not all, of Chicos.com’s new items have a video to show the fit and flow of fabric.
If mobile commerce is poised to explode this year and tablets are outselling regular PCs, then it’s time for online retailers to take advantage of the technology capabilities available to them so they can increase their conversion rates.
Keep in mind this opportunity is just the beginning and isn’t isolated to the new iPad platform. When other tablet and smartphone screens catch up, where will your online retail brand be?