How the iPad has shaped omnichannel retail

From homes to restaurants to shops and sports centres, tablets are ingrained in modern life. It almost seems impossible to remember a life without iPads.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the first ever iPad back in 2010. At the time, qualities such as multi-touch, working in the cloud, and using the homescreen in any orientation were revolutionary.

With each upgrade, the iPad offers a plethora of possibilities to its owner; face ID and an all-screen design being the newest and most exciting additions to the latest generation. But after more than eight years, what impact have iPads had on retail?

Under pressure

Tablets have transformed in-store operations; the pressure is on for retailers to develop a seamless digital experience that merges the line between online and offline and tablets help them do just this. Services such as click and collect – which is highly dependent on tablets and kiosk stations ­– are now an expected delivery option.

Great expectations

“Consumers today expect intelligent, pervasive and seamless experiences, personalised to suit their special needs” says Adyen in its 2018 Retail Report. Modern shoppers prioritise efficiency and appreciate omnichannel services - they like to begin their shopping journey on one channel and finish it on another. The same retail report found that 47% of consumers would shop in store more if they were able to purchase out-of-stock inventory and have it shipped directly to their home. Thanks to tablets, this is widely accessible to both retail giants and SMEs. Affordable to roll out and inexpensive to buy in small numbers, iPads expand a retailer’s potential.

Image courtesy of EE

Revolutionising retail

Faster payment processes are available through mobile point of sale, resulting in shorter queues. Sales tools such as assisted selling allows employees to provide a smarter and more personalised service. Information desks can be scattered around spaces for visitors to browse through information in their own time, and without the pressure of a sales assistant standing over them. Introduced by tablets, each of these qualities are a now an accepted part of the retail sector; they have revolutionised the way we shop and what we expect when we walk into a store.


Amazon recently piloted its first London-based pop-up, showcasing the power of the tablet as a tool to connect the online world with the offline one. Tablets were dotted around the space constantly encouraging visitors in the physical space to form a relationship with them in the online world. Payment, product browsing, lead generation and competitions were all available via tablet. The presence of these tablets allowed Amazon to unite the physical world with the online one. Without them, this amalgamation of the two realms wouldn’t have been possible. Payments could be made by mobile or, sale assistants were also on hand to assist with transactions. Armed with tablets, they would scan the ‘smile code’ attached to the item(s) where you would be prompted to that items individual page. You could then follow the checkout procedure like any other online process. These could be taken home that day or delivered straight to your door – a seamless omnichannel experience made possible by tablets.

Image courtesy of UGG

A flexible future

Tablets have introduced the idea of mobility and flexibility to a store and its employees. Thanks to tablets, the possibilities of retail have soared past expectations. Rigid structures of assigned payment sections, incorrect and delayed inventory information and slow payment processes are a thing of the past.