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Why You Need to Optimize Your E-Commerce Website for Tablets in 2014

Here’s a bold prediction: 2014 will go down in Internet retailer history as the year tablet commerce becomes mainstream.

OK, maybe it’s not that bold. For starters, tablets were one of the top selling gadgets this past holiday season; Walmart reports that tablet sales on Black Friday doubled between 2012 and 2013. And with tablet traffic climbing steadily month-on-month, more retailers are seeing tablets become an integral part of their e-commerce growth.

If you, like many other e-commerce executives, are considering if and how to prioritize your tablet commerce strategy in 2014, consider the following three facts.

Reason 1. Tablets Adoption Rates Are Growing Faster Than You Think

Gartner research predicts over 265 million tablets will ship in 2014. Just how many is that? To put this number in perspective, the number of tablets that will ship in this year alone is equivalent to 2/3 of the population of the US.

That’s a lot of tablets, and their adoption is increasing at the expense of desktop computers.

Over the next three years, Gartner expects a 10% decrease in the number of desktop computers manufactured. With more people adopting tablets, it’s likely that we will see the number of the tablets made and sold increase by 40% by 2017.

The trend of tablet replacing desktop is also happening on the individual consumer level. Google reports that desktop usage drops over 75% once a person buys a tablet. More than 50% of these people say they prefer to shop on on tablet over a PC.

When you consider the convenience of using a tablet to browse the web over firing up a laptop, it makes sense that customers are choosing the mobile alternative to access the web.

Reason 2. A Standard Desktop Website is Not Ideal for Converting Tablet Customers

Some tablets may only be a few inches smaller than a desktop screen, but the way that visitors interact with them could not be more different.

Chances are you own a tablet yourself or are even reading this post on one right now. Think about the way you hold a tablet and how you make purchases.

With desktop you rely on the precision of your mouse to scroll and click through products but with tablet you tap, pinch and swipe the screen to move through the shopping journey.

Serving up the desktop website to a tablet screen is not good enough. Buttons need to be bigger, product images should be better quality to take advantage of Retina screens and all interactions must be touch-friendly.

Failing to make these simple optimizations just makes it harder for your tablet visitors to purchase products and increases the likelihood they will turn to another site. Studies show that user-experience on mobile devices is critical for e-commerce conversion rates; 40% have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.

With all signs pointing to tablet, you can safely bet that many of your competitors are already accounting for tablet in their web strategy.

Reason 3. Customers Are Spending More on Tablets

The 2013 holiday season revealed that consumers use smartphones to browse and tablets to check-out. IBM reported that almost 20% of all online sales happened on tablets, which is double the amount of sales that occurred on smartphones.

Typical tablet users have more money and spend more per order overall. On average, tablet shoppers spend 20% more per purchase than regular desktop customers and 72% say that they make purchases once a week from their tablets.

Let’s Recap

The strong adoption rates, purchasing habits, and relative wealth of tablet customers, are already driving up tablet conversion rates, average order value, and other e-commerce metrics.

Starting this year, tablets will emerge as the shopping device of choice for consumers, who, in turn, will use their tablets to browse the web — and buy your products.

It goes without saying that if you want to capture the most e-commerce dollars online, a tablet website will need to be part of your mobile strategy in 2014.