Social Networking, Tablets Continue to Evolve E-Commerce Landscape

The growing popularity of tablets coupled with consumers willingness to shop and make purchases on their cool new devices means that marketers need to broaden their campaigns to include yet more channels.

The tablet and smartphone environments present new challenges for showcasing products online. At the same time, the rise of social networking (including Facebook’s IPO) gives marketers more opportunities to get their messages in front of fans and their fans’ connections. Here are five e-commerce tips that should be on your radar:

1. Create consistency across channels. Enabling e-commerce via tablets and smartphones forces the issue of channel consistency to the forefront. PCs, mobile devices, tablets, print catalogs and brick-and-mortar stores need to offer similar experiences. For example, if you offer a benefit in one channel (e.g., free shipping) make sure it appears in all other channels. Your brand’s customer service standards should be consistent across each platform as well.

2. Retool search and navigation. Marketers who want to attract mobile shoppers need to take a closer look at search and navigation. Tablets offer certain benefits over smartphones. For example, the screen is bigger, therefore content and images are easier to read and see.

On the other hand, tablet navigation isn’t easy if the online storefront is crafted for the PC experience. Tablet owners navigate with taps and swipes of their fingers to choose content. However, small text menus and lists of refinements are hard to select this way. The same is also true for on-screen buttons and page numbers; the small elements pose problems for fingertip navigation. Test tablet experiences to make sure shoppers don’t mistakenly click on other selections when choosing search refinements or navigation options.

3. Encourage shoppers to hit the “Buy” button. When consumers shop with smartphones, they’re usually doing research. When they’re browsing with a tablet, they’re prepared to buy. Therefore, encourage them to complete the purchase. Make sure search and navigation tools help speed the path from browsing to buying, and add relevant merchandising.

4. Add shopping and searching to social networking. If you’re selling online, you need to bring the retail experience into social settings. Today’s online consumer would prefer to search and shop within the social networks they’ve joined rather than having to leave for another site. Engage social shoppers by adding search boxes to your Facebook page and letting shoppers use their Facebook login info as the sign-in for your e-commerce business.

5. Add social information to search results. Shoppers want to search while they’re on social networks, but they also want to see what their social connections have to say about the products or content they’re searching for. Shoppers rely on advice from friends and family about brand preferences and product choices, and they’ll look for ways to access this information when they search and shop. Consider ways to weave social information into search results, such as reordering search results based on how many Google+ or Facebook “Likes” a product receives.

Thierry Costa is vice president of marketing at SLI Systems. Thierry can be reached at