This week, Forrester projected that by 2017, the tablet would become a “majority device” in North America with 60 percent of residents owning at least one. Though the advent of the tablet era was less than a decade ago, Internet users’ inclination toward the just-right screen size (i.e., smaller than a PC, larger than a smartphone) has been swift, particularly among affluents, seasoned travelers, and millennials. Earlier this year, an analysis of global web traffic revealed that tablets’ share of monthly page views (8 percent) exceeded that of smartphones’ (7 percent). Not surprisingly, when it comes to actual buying, tablets are also the favorite, with the latest research showing iPads registering 3.5 times the conversion rate of iPhones (2.96 percent, versus 0.84 percent). All of this means that when brands develop their mobile strategies, they must do so with both smartphone and tablet optimization in mind.
For the Watch & Jewelry sector, one of the slowest prestige verticals to embrace digital, advances in mobile have not come easily, and for tablets, even less so. In our 2013 Digital IQ Index: Watches & Jewelry report, we found that an overwhelming 94 percent of the 80 brands rely on unmodified desktop sites, 14 percent of which have non-functioning elements (generally due to Adobe Flash), and 10 percent of which suffer from size/alignment issues. For those features that do work on the tablet, rarely are they optimized: Less than half include touch-and-swipe functionality, only a quarter have selection menus that use touch input, and just one-sixth have distinct UX elements that respond to device orientation (landscape versus portrait mode).
Part of the reasoning behind the industry’s lack of innovation is the assumption that their prohibitively high price points absolve them from following in the steps of the Macy’s and Sephoras of the retail world. And historically that has been true, but the tide is changing–and quickly. Currently, 54 percent of Watch & Jewelry brands are e-commerce enabled (up from 29 percent in 2010), with 38 percent of these brands selling items online for over $20,000. If you’re trying to entice potential buyers with a high-end online experience, what better strategy than to target the wealthy, who more likely than not are browsing for holiday gifts–at least as part of the research process–on a new iPad Air? Also, who better not to frustrate with broken site elements than the loyal customer who already knows the brand, knows the five-figure watch (s)he wants to buy, but can’t seem to navigate the clunky check-out process? More so than the Macy’s and the Sephoras (both of whom are tablet-optimized), the Bulgaris and the TAG Heuers need to excel on the tablet platform, meeting their customer base–and their future customer base–where they already are.
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