advertisement
advertisement

Do Walmart, Macy’s And Target Even Know Tablets Exist?

Written by Frank Hayes
September 26th, 2012

After two years and 125 million iPads and other tablet computers shipped, most large chains’ mobile Web sites still don’t seem to know that tablets exist. They still serve up an M-Commerce site designed for a tiny smartphone screen, which looks somewhere between mediocre and terrible on a tablet screen that’s seven inches or larger.

That means just a few years after chains finally figured out the importance of customizing M-Commerce sites for phones, there’s a new advantage to be gained by spotting which mobile devices don’t have tiny screens and giving them their own customized tablet sites—or at least the full-size Web site.

Among the largest retailers, only the Amazon, Home Depot, McDonald’s, Kohl’s, Apple, JCPenney, Gap and Overstock Web sites showed up in a tablet or full-screen version. Staples.com showed up on a seven-inch tablet with slightly more content added to what was still clearly a site designed for a phone screen.

But Walmart, Target, Walgreen, CVS, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Sears, Macy’s, Rite Aid, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom and even eBay served up exactly the same screen for a tablet as for a phone with a screen a small fraction of the size. On the phone, those compact, minimalist sites help usability. On even a small tablet, the result is vast expanses of blank space that all but drives away customers.

This wasn’t what we were expecting when we started looking at how E-Commerce sites show up on a tablet. Tablets certainly aren’t new, we figured. The installed base of tablets is about 125 million as of June 2012, according to industry parts-watcher iSuppli, and that number is roughly doubling every year. They’re very, very much on the minds of retail IT shops for in-store use. Of course big chains would already have tailored their M-Commerce sites to handle big screens well, just like everyone finally launched mobile versions of their sites to handle small phone screens. Or so we assumed.

Not so, it turned out. The only accommodation most chains have made to tablets is that there’s a link at the bottom of the mobile homepage to let shoppers see the regular E-Commerce Web site.

That sends a clear message: “We can’t bother to notice you’re using a tablet with a screen big enough that it makes our mobile site look silly or ugly or both. But if you really want to see a full-size site, we’ll allow you to scroll to the bottom of the page hunting for a link to click.” Yeah, that sure won’t drive customers into the arms of competitors.

Of course, not many competitors are identifying tablets as different from mobile phones. The ones that do mostly seem to serve up the standard full-screen E-Commerce site for tablets and a typical phone site for phones, though there are some interesting variations.

For example, Staples did show a few more links at the top and bottom of the screen when we tested it with an Android tablet, compared with what showed up on an iPhone screen. It was still basically the same mobile site, and it wasn’t clear whether the difference was tablet-vs.-phone or Android-vs.-iPhone.

Apple’s mobile site, on the other hand, looked almost exactly like its regular Web site, except that on the tablet it rearranged itself when the orientation changed from portrait to landscape. Interestingly, on the iPhone it correctly identified that it was an iPhone and served up a slightly different site—more links, a special version of the iPhone 5 image that dominated the homepage. But even after correctly IDing the phone, it didn’t adjust the page to make it more small-screen-friendly. (Maybe Apple is hinting that it’s time to buy a phone with a bigger screen.)


advertisement

2 Comments | Read Do Walmart, Macy’s And Target Even Know Tablets Exist?

  1. alewisdesign Says:

    Anyone heard of “responsive web design”? We’ve been talking about this and trying to solve this specific problem. I don’t know why ecommerce has not jumped on board. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple years, read this http://www.alistapart.com/articles/responsive-web-design/

  2. Jason Goldberg Says:

    Good stuff Frank, I totally agree with your point about retailers not being prepared for tablet visitors.

    I noticed that those same retailers (Target, Macys, Walmart) all send iPad traffic to the Desktop version of the their sites.

    It seems to me that both are bad approaches. Sending iPads users to a desktop site (that expects hoover-over to work for super menu’s, quickview,etc… ) sucks, as does sending them to a smartphone optimized site. Either way, retailers have a lot of room to improve their experience for the tablet users.

    One interesting note is that while Android tablets have a fair amount of hardware marketshare (especially if you include Kindles), they don’t seem to have great share as a percentage of browsers visiting e-commerce sites. This study found that 98 of the tablet browsers on websites are iPads http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/09/27/apple-ipad-dominates-tablet-based-web-browsing-with-98-share-report-says and even if that data seems a bit far fetched I can tell you that most of my e-commerce clients see the overwhelming bulk of their tablet traffic coming from iPads. Android tablet users just don’t seem to be browsing the web as often.

    For what it’s worth, sending Android tablets to Mobile while iPads are going to the Desktop pages may be lazy programming rather than a strategy. Google made a very poor decision to make the Android Tablet user agent very similar to the Andorid Mobile user agent, so many programmers don’t notice the difference.

    Example Useragent for android mobile
    mozilla/5.0_(linux;_u;_android_2.3.5;_en-us;_n860_build/gingerbread)_applewebkit/533.1_(khtml,_like_gecko)_version/4.0_mobile_safari/533.1

    Example Useragent for android tablet
    mozilla/5.0_(linux;_u;_android_3.1;_en-us;_gt-p7510_build/hmj37)_applewebkit/534.13_(khtml,_like_gecko)_version/4.0_safari/534.13

    So you are supposed to follow this advice to detect Android Tablet devices from Google: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/03/mo-better-to-also-detect-mobile-user.html

    but many developers don’t know about it.

    Another interesting related issue is that redirecting users to a “m.” site vs. a “www.” is a horrible practice for a mobile device anyway. Imagine you are in a Target and you see a cool new bedroom set that you want to show to your husband, you pull out your iPhone and bookmark http://m.target.com/p/3-pc-bedford-bedroom-set-ebony/-/A-11623411 . With iOS6, a copy of that bookmark is synced to Safari on your PowerBook at home, so when you open up the link for your husband, guess what website you’ll see on your Retina display Powerbook mac? You’ll see a giant version of the mobile site. The same will happen if you e-mail the link to your husband to look at on his windows PC.

    Even worse, Google doesn’t treat m. pages and www. pages as the same page, so if lots of sites link to your www. page causing it to rank really high for organic search, your m. version still isn’t likely to rank highly. Google calls it “Separate Mobile URL’s” and in their new recommendations for mobile sites, it’s the worst way to handle mobile optimized pages:

    http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2012/06/recommendations-for-building-smartphone.html
    https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/details

    Cheers,

    Jason “Retailgeek” Goldberg

Leave a Reply

Readers, specifically those who want to comment on a story:
Our Comment SPAM system is getting very aggressive these days and has been blocking legitimate comments. If you post a comment and don't see it appear within 2 hours or so, can you please send a heads-up to customer-service@storefrontbacktalk.com? Ideally, please include the time you posted the comment. That will allow us to try and hunt for it. Thanks! P.S. We're working on fixing the system, but we don't want to lose any valuable comments in the meantime.

Newsletters

StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 17,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!
advertisement

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

StorefrontBacktalk
Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.