Less than a third of top US online retailers ready for tablets

James Rosewell

2/20/2012 7:12 PM

Device Detection Mobile Tablet Opinion

51Degrees.mobi strongly believes that one size doesn't fit all. It's the reason we created our own mobile device description repository, which enables web designers to create a site that'll adapt automatically for visitors using mobile phones.

However, it's important to realise that a choice of just two sizes can also be less than ideal. With consumers now using portable internet-connected devices that range from feature phones to iPads, simply deciding whether or not a handset is ‘mobile' isn't always enough.

Our Premium data identifies thousands of mobile and tablet devices, offering a wide range of properties that can be used to customise each user's browsing experience.

This means tablet users can receive a big-screen experience optimised for touch control - while mobile phones receive a site that's tailored to a smaller screen and perhaps a different input method. Without this level of customisation, the links on a conventional website could well be too small for a tablet user's fingertips... yet a basic mobile-specific site won't make full use of the tablet screen.

A new survey shows that many retailers have fallen into this ‘tablet trap' of believing a conventional web page is good enough for tablet users.

The survey, which was commissioned by rich media platform Zmags and conducted by research firm HawkPartners, looked at mobile and tablet online offerings from the top 100 US internet retailers.

It revealed that fewer than one third of retailers had tablet-optimised sites for e-commerce, although more than half of retailers had smartphone-specific offerings. In addition, over two thirds of retailers had iPhone apps but only half of them were e-commerce enabled.

The results may be surprising - but the conclusion is simple. With consumers increasingly favouring tablet devices for browsing and shopping, the retailer that provides the best experience is in with a good chance of winning the sale. And that means offering a web site tailored for each visitor.