December 13, 2012, 10:41 AM

Harry and David grows a tablet site

Its research shows tablet shoppers are highly lucrative.

Lead Photo

The merchant's tablet site.

After Christmas last year, when millions of U.S. consumers tore the wrapping paper off of new tablet computers, tablet traffic to the e-commerce site of Harry and David Holdings Inc. spiked—and has grown significantly and consistently ever since, says Sue Eagan, director of mobile and tablet e-commerce at the gifts retailer known for its fresh fruit. Tablet traffic, 90% of which is on Apple Inc. iPads, is double that of last year, and the growth trend is continuing, Eagan says.

In response to this onslaught of tablet shoppers, and to research that showed tablet shoppers are a highly lucrative group, Harry and David has launched a site specially optimized for viewing on tablet devices. It created the site with mobile commerce and social commerce technology vendor Skava.

“The desktop site worked fine on tablets overall but it really wasn’t optimized for how consumers interact with their tablets,” Eagan explains. “It wasn’t touchscreen-optimized; there was no touch and swipe. There were opportunities to better leverage our imagery; our customers really enjoy the photography, we put a lot into it and it resonates with them. There were some quick-hit things in usability that needed to be addressed to allow for fingers to do things without the precision click of a mouse. We had to look out for hover events that aren’t supported on a touchscreen device.”

A new addition for the tablets site is social sign-in, the ability for a consumer to use her social network credentials to sign in to her Harry and David account. “We implemented social sign-in because we know tablet users are high social media users, so there was a strong use-case there for social sign-in to make signing in easier,” Eagan says.

Skava was charged with bringing a couple of design concepts for the tablet site to Harry and David for review. The e-commerce team at the retailer and a dedicated team at Skava collaborated from there.

“They did the first designs, and they were great,” Eagan says. “We had some ideas of what we thought we wanted to do, but we had seen that Skava had done some great work in the mobile space so we wanted to see what they would bring to the table. They brought us a couple of concepts and we collaborated on addressing those. It worked really well.”

The site has been live for three weeks and Eagan already is happy with what she’s seeing.

“Right away we saw noticeable differences in the engagement metrics: the bounce rate decreased, page views per visit increased,” she says. “Post-season we will do a deep dive into the analytics.”

She will be looking most closely at conversion rate, engagement metrics, cart abandonment and revenue per visitor to gauge the return on her mobile commerce investment, which she declines to reveal.

“It is very important to have a tablet-optimized site,” Eagan says. “Tablet customers are a high-value customer segment. Plus, customers’ interactions with a brand on whatever device have an impact on their propensity to purchase via any channel, so even if it’s not the channel they intended to purchase on, the brand experience needs to be great regardless of the device they are on. Consumers quickly adopt all these new devices and they don’t stop to think that it might take something for the brand to give them an optimal experience there. The expectations are the experience will be as quick as they are.”

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