Whether you’re a big fan of Apple’s products or not, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the new iPad Air, announced yesterday. A barrage of news articles, a flood of Facebook posts, and thousands upon thousands of tweets are spouting off opinions and dissecting every little detail of Apple’s imminent line of new iPads. While the majority of commentators are busy debating exactly how much it matters to have an iPad 2mm thinner, there’s a big picture to look at here–one much bigger than 2 millimeters.
Apple’s media day highlights a very present fact about tomorrow’s e-commerce: Tablets are not just a segment of mobile computing; they’re a classification of their own and their impact is growing quickly. Today, we’ll take a look at how tablets are going to shape e-commerce in the coming years and what that means for you and your company’s e-commerce strategy.
Claiming tablets are going to make big changes is a moot point without talking about how many people are actually getting their hands on the devices. During today’s media event, Apple announced that last month marked the sale of the 170 millionth iPad worldwide. That’s more than half the United States population in tablet sales from a single company. In the first quarter of 2013 alone, 49.2 million tablets (of all brands) were sold, which is a staggering 142% more than last year’s Q1. Reports suggest that by 2017, over 350million tablets will be sold annually.
With tablet sales skyrocketing, an important question emerges. Will tablets replace other devices or can traditional computers, tablets, and smartphones all share immense popularity?
Tablets are an interesting case. While they’re similar to smartphones in function, statistics suggest that they’re more of a replacement for the more traditional shopping mediums: laptops and desktops. The average tablet owner does the majority of his/her shopping from the comfort of home. With a tablet, a user can get the majority of basic tasks done from the couch that formerly required a trip to the desk. The tablet takeover can be seen in sales figures. It’s no coincidence that desktop PC sales are slowly stagnating; many suggest a 5% drop in sales over the next few years. When put up against the tablet’s healthy numbers, the phasing out of Desktops makes for a radically transforming e-commerce landscape.
Tablets Are Changing the eCommerce Landscape
We’re all very used to an e-commerce environment where traditional computing methods reign. Sporting the highest conversion rates and lowest abandonment rates, desktop and laptop PCs remain a primary focus for most marketers. However, average site abandonment rates on tablet devices aren’t trailing very far behind.
Phone – 0.6%
Traditional – 2.5%
Tablet – 2.3%
A few weeks ago, we wrote an entry that outlined a few of the most common reasons for website abandonment. In a few short years, that post might look drastically outdated as tablets come into focus. While the most common reasons for cart abandonment surround expected costs and poor shipping options, a study by Jumio gives us a glimpse into the unique challenges faced on touchscreen devices. Among shoppers that had abandoned a purchase from a tablet or smartphone, 41% claimed that checkout was too difficult on their device. 23% claimed that their purchase simply would not go through. As solutions for these tablet-specific glitches are hammered out, expect conversion rates to rise to meet (or even surpass) those of traditional computers.
The Road Ahead
So, what does the potential for a big shift in the device paradigm tomorrow mean for your company today?
1. Stay Current — Starting yesterday, your business should be sure that every service you offer is compatible across devices. Make sure that your website displays properly on a range of screen resolutions, double check remarketing emails for readability on smartphones, and make sure that shopping cart abandonment solutions function properly, even for tablet shoppers.
Among businesses surveyed by econsultancy.com regarding mobile marketing strategy, the majority of respondents claimed that they were either developing a mobile app, building tablet-specific websites, or generating mobile-optimized emails. Don’t be left at the back of the pack; start considering mobile and tablet devices in your plans now.
2. Adapt Properly — While tablets are likely set to make a huge dent in Desktop PC sales, they haven’t taken over just yet. Desktops will be around for a while, so don’t go about developing solely for touchscreens just yet. Ditching a bunch of your loyal customers to make strides technologically is not progress–it’s a mistake.
3. Think Timeless — While device considerations should be made when drafting up new website content, there are some rules that extend beyond current popular tech. Some of the most effective methods of reducing cart abandonment, such as being upfront about shipping costs or following up abandons with a remarketing email, are timeless–don’t be afraid to start them today.
Unsurprisingly, Apple’s new iPad was met with a flurry of attention. If sales projections are any indicator, it’s safe to say that excitement over tablets isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. For more information on what your company can do today to be ready for the tablet-heavy e-commerce landscape of tomorrow, give us a call.
Written by Bryan Gudmundson