By Jason Taylor
Special to the eTail Blog
A recent study found that 87% of tablet owners used their devices to browse and purchase gifts this holiday season. As consumers are becoming increasingly confident using tablets to browse, shop and purchase from retailers online, it is crucial for brands to view tablets as a key part of their overall online sales and marketing strategy. Understanding the tablet shopper as well as the features that make the devices unique is the first step to successfully integrating tablets into a broader multichannel strategy. Further, retail businesses must develop a tablet experience that works for all users, and incorporate similar branding and messaging to maximize potential traffic and revenue.
The New Tech-Savvy Tablet Shopper
The 2011 holiday season made it easy for retailers to recognize and understand the power of tablets. According to data from Monetate, 4.5% of all website visits between Black Friday and Cyber Monday came through tablet devices. Displaying the power of tablets as a sales channel, these users converted at a rate of 5.1%, only a .3% difference from desktop traffic. Additional data from Zmags found that 49% of tablet owners plan to shop via their devices moving forward, representing a significant opportunity for retailers to optimize their tablet shopping to maximize this increasing traffic and set themselves apart from competitors.
Taking Advantage of the Tablet’s Unique Features
When optimizing an ecommerce site for tablet users, retailers must take into account the device’s unique features in order to create the most engaging experience for the consumer. For example, leveraging the device’s screen size and multi-touch capabilities empowers brands to become creative when looking for ways to more deeply engage with its customers. Incorporating tap-tap-zoom, finger swipe, and video features into the browsing and buying experience helps to both effectively maximize screen real estate and create a fun and engaging tablet shopping experience.
Optimize for all Tablets, Big and Small
A successful tablet experience is one that works for all users, regardless of what device they choose. The ever-growing tablet landscape requires brands to develop a device agnostic strategy with the ability to reach all tablet users and maximize all potential revenue opportunity. Don’t get lost in the “everyone has an iPad” idea, because not everyone does. Additionally, optimizing a site for a tablet requires an agile platform that instantly recognizes the type of device used and delivers the same high levels of performance and support shoppers are accustomed to on the desktop in order to ensure a positive user experience.
Creating a Consistent Brand Experience
Tablets should be viewed by brands as a valuable channel that will drive traffic and increase revenue. However, to successfully integrate an effective tablet strategy into overall multichannel efforts, it is crucial that retailers incorporate the same branding aesthetics and core functionality on tablets that consumers experience with the brand’s existing in-store, online and mobile presence. Looking forward, the tablet’s influence on retail will continue to grow, forcing brands to view devices like the iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, and others as essential consumer touchpoints that require a consistent brand experience. In fact, if retailers don’t get their tablet strategy right over the next several years, they run the risk of becoming irrelevant in the eyes of today’s tech-savvy consumer.
Jason Taylor is the Head of Platform Strategy and Innovation at Usablenet, New York, Italy and UK based company that offers a technological platform for transforming and optimizing web content for any device.