Business urged to audit websites for tablets as new research shows PC sales decline

Businesses are being warned to give their e-commerce platforms an audit, following new research from IT firm Canalys which shows tablets are now taking up one third of all traditional PC sales.

The shift to tablets has been documented for some time, and is even causing sales mayhem in the traditional PC-making industry. But now, experts say online businesses need to have a deep look at how their business operates on a tablet.

Justus Wilde, the chief executive of digital marketing firm Dynamiq, told SmartCompany this morning about 30-40% of the traffic to his clients’ sites come from mobile devices – but sales occur more on a tablet.

“We’re seeing a majority of the actual mobile traffic coming from mobiles, but the majority of the sales come from tablets.”

“What we see happening is that someone starts their shopping experience on a mobile device, then they switch to a desktop at work, and then purchase on a tablet at home while they’re relaxing.”

The figures from Canalys show one in every three PCs shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012 was a tablet. The iPad accounted for about half of those, or one in six PCs shipped. The company qualified a tablet as any device with a screen seven inches or more.

The largest vendor was Apple, followed by HP.

The shift towards tablet devices has been ongoing for some time. Only a few consumer sectors focus on PCs anymore, such as the enterprise, because home users simply don’t need a dedicated desktop to do what a cheaper tablet can do better.

Wilde says there are a few key lessons for businesses to pick up from this data. The main point is businesses should focus on a smooth transition between as many devices as possible.

“This presents a challenge, because a user might start a wish list on one device and then move to another, so you may lose some of the effort there.”

“This is why things like wish lists and carts need to be put together on the site. A lot of businesses send automated emails to your email with a link to your cart as a reminder. Those types of messaging can help.”

With a need to make the e-commerce experience fluid across a number of devices, Wilde says the main trend to watch this year is responsive design. Instead of creating three different websites for the desktop, tablet and mobile, responsive design creates one for all three which changes in shape and size.

“Responsive design is really good for tablets. It’s closer to a desktop experience, so sophisticated operators will have that for desktop and tablet, and then produce something specific for mobile.”



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