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Staples leads the way with new tablet-optimized experience

Office supplies retailer Staples launched a tablet-optimized site this week to provide a rich browser-based experience for shoppers.

Staples reports that its traffic from tablet devices grew throughout last year at a faster pace than smartphones. With the penetration of tablets growing and shopping proving to be a popular activity on tablets, more retailers are considering a tablet strategy, but Staples is one of the first to actually introduce a tablet experience for its customers.

“When we were looking at other retailers and non-retailers to see what others are doing, we realized that this is a brand new medium from a retailer perspective,” said Prat Vemana, director of mobile strategy at Staples, Framingham, MA.

“We did extensive customer research trying to understand how our customers are using tablets in terms of shopping and that lead us into the thinking that we should try to provide a new kind of experience leveraging the features that the medium offers,” he said. “We are bringing significant value and leveraging the medium and what it offers.”

A different approach
The retailer’s research showed that shoppers on a tablet device are looking for a quicker and easier way to research and purchase products compared to desktops.

The research also showed that tablet users tend to access features from within a browser as opposed to an app, which is why Staples focused on providing a rich browser-based experience.

Retailers need to approach tablets differently than smarpthones because the screen size is larger, which enables them to create richer shopping experiences.

Tablets are also more likely to be used for browsing as opposed to smartphones, which are typically used by consumers on the go who know what they are looking for.

“If you include tablets as part of mobile traffic, you find that over 50 percent of mobile traffic for retailers is coming from tablets,” said Danielle McCormick, director of marketing at Skava, San Francisco.

“The average tablet shopper falls into the higher income bracket and is a regular internet shopper,” she said. “A tablet shopper is twice as likely to convert than a mobile shopper.”

“Given these stats and trends, it makes sense for retailers to create a rich and optimized experience on tablets which entices the shopper to stay and browse and helps the retailer boost conversion and enhance brand identity.”

Staples worked with Skava to develop its tablet site.

Some of the features of the Staple tablet site include an app-like login that lets users quickly and easily set up their password and login information when they arrive on the site.

The site also makes it easy for users to find printer ink with only three touches on the screen.

Currently, the site it optimized for some Android devices and iOS and will be rolled out to additional tablet devices in the coming weeks.

In the past year, Staples has launched a mobile-optimized site and new apps for the iPhone and Android.

“This is a brand new medium,” Mr. Vemana said. “One of our goals is to determine if it makes it easier for people to shop at Staples.

“We see this as another medium that we can innovate around,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York