How a Tablet App Can Make or Break Your Retail Business

Retail Tablet AppToday there are dozens of options available for those looking for a tablet computer. In fact, U.S. consumers have so warmly adopted this trend that 34% now own a tablet, and in Q4 2013 tablet shipments were expected to exceed PC shipments. Additionally, 43% of U.S. tablet owners spend more time on their tablets than on their desktop computers, according to a study by Google Inc.

All of these stats only reinforce the fact that retailers need an amazing tablet app if they have any hope of surviving in the rapidly growing online retail market.

Internet Retailer and AnswerLab suggest that a good place to start is by creating a tablet app that is easy to use and easy to shop from. They offer the following tips for companies looking to launch or improve a tablet app:

Make search obvious and easy: Just as with smartphones and e-commerce sites, users need to be able to search and find products easily. AnswerLab suggests putting the search box at the top of the screen with a magnifying glass or the word “search” to let readers know they can type in a query there.

Be big on browsing: Allow ample room for consumers to leisurely browse high-quality images and interact with them. Tablets aren’t much heavier than many magazines, and many shoppers explore and use tablets in the same way they would page through a magazine, the report says. So focus on images and make the navigation options slim so that they don’t take up much space, AnswerLab says. The report also suggests allowing users to enlarge images by tapping or stretching their fingers and offering visuals signs such as arrows to notify consumers that there is more content available.

Have clear calls to action: Houzz does this well by displaying green price tags shoppers can tap to learn more about products and to purchase them.

Minimize the need for typing: Although it easier to type on a tablet than a smartphone, it’s still not ideal, AnswerLab says. Don’t ask for information that isn’t absolutely necessary and consider using multiple-choice options to reduce the amount of manual typing required, the report says. AnswerLab also suggests companies increase entry field sizes to make form field boxes large enough to tap. Consumers using tablets don’t have the option to click on a field with a mouse cursor, so fields need to fit the larger tip of a finger. The same goes for buttons, AnswerLab says. Ensure they are large enough to tap with a finger without selecting the wrong option.

The article also references Sephora and Houzz as two excellent examples of retail tablet apps. However, it seems at least in Sephora’s case that they may have overlooked careful functional testing before some of their latest releases. Sephora’s App for iPad only has an Applause score of 49, mainly getting dinged in reviews for crashes, failures to open and other complaints about functionality. Even the best user interface can’t overcome poor functionality.

Learn more about the biggest pain points for retail apps and how to address them in this free eBook.

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