Gain A Competitive Advantage By Optimizing Your Site for Tablets

Your store is a lot like other stores. That’s okay because you are adhering to a tried and tested format. Except, it’s also not okay, because adhering to that standard obscures your store among the nameless masses of commerce sites. How can you make your store stand out, while still enjoying the benefits of using best practices? The same way you make your business stand out: find a need, and provide for it. Well, my friend, that need is an online store your customers can browse on via tablet. Why tablets, you ask? Here are a few reasons why you should be optimizing your site for tablets.

Tablets: Mobile’s Darlings.

What you already know:

Over the past three years, mobile shopping trends on Black Friday indicate, traffic has grown from roughly 15% to 40% of all online Black Friday shopping traffic, according to IBM.

What you don’t know:

Also, according to IBM, although smartphones account for double the traffic of tablets, tablets account for double the amount of online sales compared to smartphones. That means a tablet user is roughly 4 times more likely to make a purchase than a smartphone user. Furthermore, iOS tablet users spend more than Android users. There you go.

Still not convinced? Feast your eyes on this infographic.

Paradigm Shift: Desktop to Tablet

Remember how I said no one is doing it right? Everyone still makes desktop sites. Even with the almighty “responsive design“, your competitors just make desktop sites that fit on tablets. Consider these common eCommerce features:

  • drop-down navigation
  • parallax effect
  • product image zoom
  • product sliders

Drop-downs require mouse hovers to work. Parallax often does not work on tablets. Product image zooms require mouse hovers. Product sliders often aren’t touch-enabled. Buttons respond slowly when clicking on tablets. The bottom line is, tablet experiences currently aren’t as good as desktop experiences. But it doesn’t need to be that way. We need to optimize for tablets, and we need to find new ways of engaging the user, and getting our information out there, using the new technologies available.

Seamless Tablet Experience

The good news is, tablets, in many ways, have more to offer users than desktops do. Tablets provide a tactile, interactive experience, not to mention the fact that they’re infinitely more accessible. But most importantly, your website can do things on tablets that aren’t available on desktops yet. You can connect to your customer via geo-location to better serve them. You can provide real-time two-way communication, even augmented reality. You can use touch gestures and the gyroscope to give your users complete control. Truly, the potential we have ready at our disposal has not yet fully been unlocked.

The publishing industry is starting to get it right: they saw the need to make a shift to mobile computing, and they now provide some pleasant experiences for their customers. Take The Toronto Star’s iPad site, for example (only viewable from an iPad/Android tablet). It has full side-swiping for pagination, a clean, magazine-style-columns layout, and interactive ads. The result? A huge competitive advantage.

thestar_webapp

But What About My Store?

“But wait”, you say, clearly distraught: “I can’t make an entirely new store for tablets.” I have good news, friend; you don’t have to. All you have to do is, take your already-responsive design (your site is responsive, right?) and re-think it from a tablet standpoint. Does your site often rely on hover states to display important information (such as tooltips, quickviews, menu items, product images)? Re-think those design aspects. Find a way to display that information all the time. Are your clicks slow (the dreaded 300 millisecond link-touch delay)? Speed them up! Think “touch” and “gestures”, not hovers. Think geo-location, and making your customers’ shopping experience more convenient for them.

Take the Lead

eCommerce for tablets is literally open-season. Go a step beyond your competitors: don’t just create a responsive site, create an interactive site. Give your customers a truly wonderful, powerful and unique experience; one that they can identify with your brand.