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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Online shopping: The path of least resistance?

Remember the anxiety people had during the early days of online shopping? Yes, there were pictures. But even still, retailers were convinced that shoppers would never give-up the chance to pick-up the product, hold it in their hands, sense the tangible worth of a product before buying it. The psychological entry fee of buying something online seemed far too high… especially when matters of comfort, fit and feel were involved.

I raise the issue because of a recent story I read in the Engage: Boomers newsletter from Media Post, which suggested that many boomer women find buying their clothes online—yes, their clothes—to be easier than buying those fashions in-store.

Implications: While this may not be what the story was trying to imply, here are a couple of the thoughts which I elected to infer…
  • Before webmasters start celebrating about their retail prowess, it might be smart to accept that sometimes, online shopping is fueled not by a website that is intuitive, but by an in-store experience that is not.
  • If part of your business is e-commerce, it might be a good idea to survey those customers, to see if they are using the site because it is awesome, or because their in-store experience was not.
  • Many consumers continue to use their online tools to do research and make advance decisions… in other words, to abbreviate the face-time you get with them. Are you training your floor personnel to make the most of that shortened face-time they have with customers?
  • Do you offer a browser-equipped computer somewhere in your store, so customers don’t have to leave to check a competitor’s offering? (If they're in your store, you have the advantage. Don’t make them leave your place of business to compare… because then you lost the advantage.)
Just a little brainstorming.

Mike Anderson

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