Webmasters who run e-commerce sites have been given further indications that they will need to cater to tablet users, with the publication of a new report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which shows that searches being made from this type of device were up by 132% over the second quarter of 2013.

E-commerce related web searches were up across the board, irrespective of platform, although tablet searches saw the most significant growth, above the 66% annual increase for smartphones and the 15% overall rise for the market as a whole, according to The Drum.

The statistics for the study were provided by Google, which means that millions of searches carried out by UK web users over the past three months were assessed, to identify emerging trends.

The biggest search growth experienced by an individual retail category was DIY and gardening, where queries were up by 32% in total, while on tablets alone, interest had risen by an impressive 170%.

Report spokesperson, Helen Dickinson, of the BRC, said that consumers were being liberated by tablets, no longer having to sit in front of desktop machines to access e-commerce sites and thus being able to shop from whichever location they choose.

She also pointed out that this was having an impact on cross-border e-commerce, with international buyers now more likely to shop with an overseas retailer than ever before.

Another report, conducted by Nielsen and published this month, showed that the UK was second only to America in terms of the trust and confidence that it placed in its e-commerce market, by a pool of foreign consumers.

Six thousand people took part in this study, with respondents being drawn from as far afield as China and Australia.

One of the reasons that non-domestic customers are using UK e-commerce sites is that they trust the quality of the products that are being offered.

Consumers also value the user experience which is available to them via UK retail sites, with the maturity of our domestic market helping it to outshine some of its international rivals, both in Europe and elsewhere.

Part of the challenge facing webmasters is that they need to make their e-commerce web design appropriate for visitors across a broad array of platforms.

Tablet devices are increasingly being seen in a different light to smartphones, in spite of the fact that they tend to run the same operating systems and use touchscreen interfaces.

Conversion rates for tablet visitors are also higher, since the smartphone is more of a casual browsing platform, while these larger devices are a little more conducive to serious retail sessions.

While desktop computers still account for the majority of e-commerce revenues in the UK, this state of affairs is not necessarily going to remain constant going forwards and could well shift towards tablet dominance further down the line.

Meanwhile, e-commerce webmasters will need to keep an eye on reports like this to determine the best course of action.

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