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Feb 15, 2010 | 3 minute read

Optimizing for Operating Systems: Why Should You Care?

written by Linda Bustos

Buried within every analytics tool is an often overlooked piece of data - the breakdown of operating systems your visitors are using. Most web analysts don't pay much attention to it. Some web designers use it as a reference, web pages may look different on different operating systems, and it's good to know which are important to test before launch.

But this data has great application for software and technology vendors who sell products that have operating system requirements. This includes cameras, printers and other computer accessories. Operating system detection can be used in targeted selling strategies to improve the personalization of product merchandising, offers and other messaging.

One way I've seen this in practice is on the PC Tools website. When I visit from my Mac, I see the following:

Are you looking for Mac security software?
PC Tools now offers iAntiVirus, a free antivirus product for Mac OS X. Please click below to learn more.
Tell me more / No thanks
Remember my answer

This is brilliant. It uses operating system detection to trigger the message, but gives me the option to decline and save my settings. This is important, since sometimes people shop on different machines than the ones they use most often (think of employees shopping on their lunch break or during conference calls). A shopper may also be buying a gift or purchasing on behalf of the business.

If I express that I am looking for Mac security software on the PC Tools website, I am taken to a special landing page. If the product catalog were different (more variety of Mac software items) I may have been directed to a Mac category, microsite or simply been merchandised Mac products only (filtered catalog).

Without device detection, technology manufacturers and resellers can still provide better tools for customers to hone in on the products compatible with their existing hardware. One way is product selectors (wizards) that ask a series of questions. Another way is better product filters. For example, Samsung could add Operating System to its existing (and very helpful) filtered navigation menu:

I checked all the major electronics sellers (think Best Buy, Radio Shack, Tiger Direct, Crutchfield and Amazon) and a few electronics manufacturers and could not find one example of category filters that included operating system.

Sure beats clicking on individual products and hunting for operating system compatibility the old fashioned way...

If you sell software or technology products, please join us next week for our industry-specific February webinar: Ecommerce for Technology Vendors: Maximizing Your Online Channel, where I will be sharing an hour of tips and tactics for improving the customer experience.

About the webinar:

Across all retail sectors, approximately 60% of consumers will go directly to a manufacturer’s site when researching a purchase. Another 16% will use a search engine, which often leads to the manufacturer’s site. For the technology and packaged software industries, these figures are likely higher, as online downloads direct from the vendor’s .com site is the strongest means of acquisition.

But with potentially more than 76% of consumers arriving at a manufacturer’s website, how much money is left on the table when its online store is not optimized?

Join Linda Bustos, ecommerce analyst at Elastic Path Software and author of the Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog, on February 25 to discuss how technology companies can improve conversion rates and average order values to maximize the return on investment for their ecommerce projects.

Webinar takeaways:

• The advantages technology and software manufacturers have over retail resellers and affiliates and how to leverage these advantages
• The common weaknesses of enterprise technology sites and how to improve them
• Tips for turning trial downloads into purchases
• Optimizing the renewal/upgrade process

Sign up today!

February 25, 2010 @ 9am PST / 12pm EST