With Forrester Research forecasting that one third of US adults will own a tablet by 2015, Monetate teamed up with Retail Online Integration to put on a webinar last Tuesday to help ecommerce firms get a handle on how to reach this fast-growing segment of website traffic.

The webinar, 6 Ways to Reach Tablet Shoppers to Drive ROI, featured an all-star panel that included Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, who laid out the consumer landscape for tablet adoption and usage; Mike Madaio, Lead, User Experience at QVC, who shared his company’s approach to solving the tablet dilemma; and Monetate Strategic Services Director Nathan Richter, who offered the following six best practices for delivering a tablet-friendly experience on your website:

1. Identify the differences between devices.

Just as mobile and tablet devices show a split in the types of activities consumers perform on them, Richter explained, the screen sizes of the various tablets also affect the user experience and resulting behaviors. In addition, iOS interacts differently with your native website than Android. Audit your website on the most prevalent tablets (iPad and Kindle Fire, at the least) to determine what features and functionality need to be addressed.

Determining whether you want to build an app or not to address your needs, Richter said, depends on the value of offering an app to your audience versus the investment required. Is an app this audience segment’s preferred method of interaction? Will it deliver a feature you don’t offer (nor want to) on your core website? Make sure the ROI is there before moving in the direction of building an app.

2. Highlight visitors’ key activities.

A great way to get an immediate ROI bump is to focus on key activities customers undertake on websites, such as browsing, buying, searching, and accessing elements of their accounts, Richter advised. For example, take the top three to five functions and use them in a quick navigation bar that floats on top of the website and travels with them as they move from page to page (as shown in the Tafford Uniforms example at right). Or, exaggerate the high-value functions on your website, like the search bar, to help visitors on devices with smaller screens get on the path to conversion fast.

3. Optimize your website features.

The obvious example here is how Flash and the iPad don’t work well together. Make sure you understand which areas of your website might have content that is not applicable or doesn’t function/render on a tablet the way you would like, Richter explained. In its place, you can serve up static content via a website optimization platform like Monetate in order to deliver a shopping experience that’s still as powerful as the one you present on a PC.

4. The fat finger effect.

Think of any primary call to action—such as a store locator, flight finder, or popular widget—and try to ease the user experience for tablet traffic. Beyond making buttons bigger on your website, Richter advised thinking about implementing predictive search to cut down keypad strokes so shoppers can more easily get to products or other areas of your website they desire.

5. Streamline product pages.

While Amazon is known for having content-rich product detail pages that are robust in their SEO potential and customer experience, Richter explained, their native app for the Kindle Fire features product detail pages that are super-clean and streamlined to optimize conversion. A good way to start clearing out the clutter, he said, is to think of what you might already show in a Quick View feature and mimic that focus for tablet users (see the FreePeople example, at right). Your goal with product detail pages is to minimize distractions to make it easy for visitors to complete what they came to do: pick a color, pick a size, add to basket and begin the checkout process.

6. Consider alternative payments.

Richter said he expects to see an acceleration of online retailers offering tablet users alternatives to traditional payment options. Whether it’s related to security concerns over sharing credit card information on a wi-fi connection or some other hurdle, tablet traffic might be more comfortable with alternate payment choices. For example, he said, recent data showed PayPal as second only (and nearly equal) to Visa as the most-used payment method for purchases completed on iPads. As such, highlight alternate payment options in your shopping cart.

This is just some of the great information you’ll find in the free, on-demand version of the webinar. Mike Madaio lets you in on the behind-the-scenes work QVC conducted to ensure tablet users enjoy the same high-level experience as traffic coming from PCs. And Sucharita Mulpuru gives plenty of stats on consumers’ tablet usage patterns and attitudes toward shopping on tablets.

It’s a wealth of insights on tablet commerce that will help you kickstart your company’s plan to solve the tablet dilemma.

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