THE BLOG

Swiping Across Generations

02/02/2017 13:29

Unlike most of the UK, tablets are a central part of my family life as both daughters often try to sneak them under their duvets in a bid for some post-bedtime movie watching.

However, tablet sales are tailing off at speed in Western Europe, and are now being swiped by different demographics from when the iPad 1.0 launched six years ago. Whilst day-to-day my smartphone is king for all of my shopping, social, email and texting needs, now my daughters' and my mother's generations also swear by their tablet. We all have our own relationship with tech, but there are patterns across age groups.

We're all tech savvy now, just to different extents - the largest rise in recent internet use was in women 75 years old and over - and a tablet offers ease of use for a bit of online shopping, and is big enough to watch video content and read on easily. In my daughters' case they've worked out pretty quickly that a tablet is an easier alternative to trying to fit my laptop under their pillow.

The smart phone is going from strength to strength, not least because retailers are embracing the technology that allows them to connect with customers on the move, but also because more and more brands are optimising their websites for mobile and content is more compatible across the various platforms. All Saints is a strong example of a well-designed 'mobile first' ecommerce site. It's clear and easy to navigate, with large and clean images that are easy to select using your thumb. You can easily flick between coats, shoes and tops and the checkout basket is located off canvas, allowing quick access to your account.

There are of course many retailers that have a long way to go such as Robert Dyas. All of the site's navigation is hidden under a single dropdown by department, which is not clear and makes it hard to find what you're looking for, especially when you're on the move. Also the header area is on all pages which pushes the product images fairly low down the page, meaning you need to scroll, which isn't ideal on a smartphone.

The majority of us 18-45 year olds continue to pick smartphones over tablets so all ecommerce sites need to be good, if not great on mobile if retailers want to capture their share of our wallets. The older generation are traditionally later adopters of technology but soon we'll see them move to the smart phone, especially as the screen size increases and the appearance differences between smartphone and tablets reduce. There will continue to be specific use cases for larger screen portable devices of course; reading, watching video content and touch screen apps in physical retail stores for example.

So what's next for the tech savvy crowd? The real opportunity now is around how voice interfaces will be harnessed and integrated into the shopping experience. The technology has caused a buzz since Siri and Amazon's Alexa, and retailers are keen to adopt the latest technology. It takes a brave few to lead the way and prove it can work before the masses follow. I envisage that in the not too distant future, shop assistants will be replaced by AI touchpoints who converse with you and help you locate your size and check for stock. As a loyal customer you'll be greeted with a personal welcome and you'll be told about which of your favourite products are on offer.

While my daughters will likely keep using their tablets for watching video content and reading, they will soon be migrating to smart phones for email, general browsing and online shopping. In the meantime, you'll find me embracing new shopping tech, as I navigate my way around stores by shouting commands instead of swiping.

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