The evidence is mounting that tablets will be more important to “etailers” than PCs in the very near future. Tablet users are more affluent than traditional PC users on average and they buy more. Apple has sold more than 100 million iPads, while Amazon and Google have sold millions of their own 7-inch tablets.
After the wrapping paper is all recycled this holiday season we could very well see a user population of 75 million tablets in the US.
Tablets see much more actual conversion volume than smartphones, which are primarily used for research (conversions happen later “online” or in stores). However according to data from e-commerce tool vendor Skava only 7 percent of retailers have websites that are tablet friendly.
Citing Adobe data, Skava also reports that “52 percent of consumers declared the tablet their favorite device” and “40 percent of tablet owners use it more than their PCs.”
Most retailers incorrectly assume that their PC sites will render properly on tablets. And while retailers can “get away with” this one-size-fits-all approach much more often on a tablet vs. a smartphone, the user experience may suffer a range of weaknesses or flaws according to Skava:
- Not optimized to switch between landscape and portrait
- Images not working correctly
- Drop down buttons not functioning correctly
- Links difficult to click on
- Flash won’t work on iPads and may not work well on Android tablets
- Text too small
- Not providing an engaging experience
Source: Marin Software (Q3 2012)
As the chart above indicates tablet (iPad) CTRs are typically higher than PCs and conversions are comparable to or greater than PCs. In addition, as mentioned, shopping cart value is ofter larger on tablets. In other words, these are more valuable consumers than average PC e-commerce buyers.
The challenge for marketers and retailers is that there is now a continuum of devices and screen sizes to deal with: 4-inches, 7-inches, 10-inches. Responsive web design is one approach to this challenge, but that may not produce optimal experiences for mobile shoppers in all cases.
Marketers need to develop HTML sites that are optimized for tablets and apps for both smartphones and iPads. Smartphone apps for Android will “work” acceptably well (for the time being) on the Nexus 7, and iPad apps will work for both the Mini and the traditional iPad.
But don’t “let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” The important thing for retailers is to get going and develop mobile and tablet-optimized sites and apps. Those sites and apps can be refined over time as user data comes in.
According to Magento 79 percent (as of Q2) of large retailers don’t have mobile (including tablet) optimized sites. Consumers aren’t waiting around for retailers; if they encounter bad mobile (and tablet) experiences they’ll simply “move on.”
That’s why it’s critical to start now and get off the sidelines. There’s a huge opportunity cost — especially for multichannel retailers — to waiting.