Screen Shot 2012-11-13 at 10.26.07 AMSVP of Mobile and Digital Strategy for Wal-Mart, Gibu Thomas was recently quoted on as saying, “Tablets will play a major part in holiday sales. It’s the ultimate shopping device.” I must say, I agree. Thomas is right–tablets ARE the ultimate shopping device and they are going to change B2B ecommerce.

While you are a business-to-business (B2B) organization and are less likely to be directly impacted by the consumer’s use of tablet devices to place holiday gift orders, I believe that mobile devices–specifically tablets–will directly affect how your customers place orders.

Here’s why the wide adoption of tablet PCs and iPads will affect your business:

Tablet devices are everywhere because they can go everywhere. In short, everyone has one these days. No matter where you go–coffee shop, classroom, airport, corporate board room–if you look around you are likely to see someone and probably multiple people with a tablet in hand. They are taking notes, reading, surfing the web, and more. B2B Ecommerce Impact: The widespread use of tablet devices has spread to the mobile B2B salesforce. You are now likely to see tablets in hand as B2B salespeople make calls on customers, in use as reps sit in their cars talking with customers about order questions, and used to reference the organization’s website and online ordering system–whether in the office or not. Tablet devices put your organization’s most powerful tools into the hands of your sales people both in and out of the office.

Tablet devices are more user-friendly. Lighter than laptops and offering bigger screens than a smart phone, tablet PCs and iPads are more likely to be taken on the road–by all types of business professionals. B2B Ecommerce Impact: Your customers are just as likely to turn to a tablet device when on the road or in a meeting as your sales team. This trend requires “always accessible” websites and ordering capability specifically created to capitalize on the exceptionally portable tablet. Your website and ecommerce sites, as well as any customer portals you make available, must work flawlessly on iPads and Android / Windows-based tablet PCs.

Tablet devices  are no longer simply a luxury item. Once considered a luxury “toy,” tablet devices are now considered to be workhorses by many organizations and they are being issued with increasing frequency as standard issue equipment at many organizations. B2B Ecommerce Impact: As more and more of your customers begin accessing their daily work via tablet, it is essential that your sites keep pace and remain ahead of the technological curve at all times. Invest now in making sure your sites render properly on the most widely used tablet devices.

Tablet device pricing is falling. The price of tablet devices is coming down as new competitors and product sizes enter the market. At these new price levels, the cost of a tablet device is no longer a formidable barrier to entry for many organizations. Bulk purchases direct from the manufacturer can further lower the cost of each tablet. B2B Ecommerce Impact: It’s likely that you will see an increasing number of your customer contacts moving to a tablet device as the pricing for these items continues to fall. Whether using a corporate tablet or a personal device, more and more business will be conducted via tablet in the next year.

The Take Away

The message is clear–tablet device adoption is on the rise and will continue to drive business decisions on an increasing basis over the next year and beyond. Your business customers may use tablets to place orders from the road, in the office or at home and your sales team is equally as likely to turn to a tablet device rather than a laptop. Make sure your ecommerce strategy includes a comprehensive mobile component that addresses both tablets and smartphones. Don’t wait–now is the time to act and demand for access via mobile tablet will never be smaller than it is right now.

To learn more about how to leverage the power of your B2B ecommerce initiative, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Strategy – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.