Web tip: looking at tablets from the B2B side of things

WOW-Spotlight-SliceConsumers love tablets – that fact is well understood. The release of the new iPad a few weeks back broke sales records and launched waiting lists right from the get-go. We know consumers are both using and converting on tablets.

But what about users on the B2B side of things? As many predicted, there has been rapid adoption of tablets in the workplace itself. A 2012 AT&T survey found that two-thirds (67%) of small businesses surveyed use tablet computers, up from 57% in 2011. B2B tablet use isn’t just confined to in-office activities, however. These companies are also bringing tablets into their sales process.

Some B2B tablet facts

One function tablets have in the B2B world is their ability to be sent out into the field. Whether in small meetings with clients or at large conferences, sales representatives are now being armed with tablets, and it’s paying off.  One study found that 70% of people with a company-issued tablet hit their sales target in a given period versus only 62% of reps overall (Huthwaite, 2011).

The same study found that devices are also favored by reps themselves; 90% of surveyed salespeople said that the devices improved their productivity. The authors of the Huthwaite study concluded that these increases in sales performance were due to the fact that tablets allow sales reps to focus on the buyer and what they need rather than hunting about for information.

B2B tablet conversion trends are also similar to those from B2C; Forrester found that tablet shoppers tend to convert at a higher rate and to place bigger orders than those shopping on other devices. When Whereoware collected data from all of our B2B clients, we found that tablet traffic has grown by 127% in just the last six months. So even if you don’t want to invest in a tablet-specific app, you will want to make sure your website looks great on a tablet. (For info on how to optimize your site for tablets, see blog post, Web tip: going mobile? Design for tablets, not just smartphones.)

Why are tablets so popular?

1) Imagery

First impressions are everything when it comes to sales – and tablets certainly make a great one. Innovations like the iPad’s new Retina display mean that images which may have been marginally effective on a computer screen are now breathtaking when a consumer gets up close and personal with a catalog on a tablet. Since iOS devices comprise 70% of overall usage, these visual improvements can make a huge difference in conversion rates (Egnyte, 2011).

2) Portability and ease of use

Tablets offer more than just a pretty picture. Portability is also key. They are lightweight and just the right size for moving place to place while still allowing for easy usage. Plus, connectivity is a snap with Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G LTE connections. This means that if you’re a B2B company with a tangible product line, tablets can ease your workload, since they eliminate the need to lug around catalogs, photo cards, and a laptop.

Instead, apps have been built so that reps always have the latest catalogs and product images on hand.   These digitized catalogs can even be made shoppable, allowing reps to order product directly from the screen.  They can even add attachments like scanning devices, which can be used in showrooms. The ability for the tablet to combine multiple tools in one makes it easy for reps to access the information they need to close the deal.   Tablet commerce represents one-stop shopping at its finest.

3) Collaboration

Tablets provide B2B reps with the ability to search, filter + sort, and retrieve product info quickly and easily. They can even tie in useful data like a customer’s past order history, making it easy to pull a visual list of the customer’s favorite products. Easily accessible information means that reps can use the tablet as a tool to collaborate with clients, finding exactly what they need quickly and easily.

The bottom line

Tablets are here to stay, and B2B businesses are hurrying to catch up with the B2C innovators. Not yet in the race? Don’t fall behind – there’s still time to jump in the game, but the sooner your company does so, the better!

Want to see an example of a B2B tablet app in action?  Be sure to take a look at Whereoware’s Spotlight.  Or, for more information on B2B tablet adoption and other burgeoning marketing trends, check out our recent presentation, 5 E-Commerce Trends to Try Out.