eView: Retailers Need to Make Online Shopping More Than Just Convenient
To date, online shopping has not been able to replicate the brick-and-mortar experience in terms of accommodating shoppers. It's time for that to change.
When shoppers enter a physical store, they are free to either stick to their primary drivers -- such as variety, price, quality, convenience and/or quantity -- or compromise in one area in favor to another.
E-commerce, however, has traditionally limited shoppers' abilities to interact with products. It has forced shoppers to go down one virtual aisle, then put their shopping cart in reverse and back up before changing course. In short, e-commerce has been intolerant of shopper ambivalence, and has discouraged the recreational shopper.
Attitudes around online shopping have changed in the past few years, resulting in more people feeling secure in their online transactions.
Shoppers are buying more online and doing much more research online prior to offline purchases. And they're buying more complex and expensive goods online, such as jewelry.
On the flip side, they are becoming more demanding. One survey found that when online shoppers have a negative experience, nearly 90 percent are not likely to return to the site, and nearly half are even less likely to shop at the retailer's brick-and-mortar store.
Online shoppers also have generally felt restricted in terms of their ability to shop freely -- to act on their natural shopping impulses and use their well-honed skills. The reason for this stems from technology limitations in the e-commerce space. These limitations between shoppers and retailers have created a linear human/computer conversation that has left shoppers feeling a lack of control over their experiences.
Online shoppers want to have full visibility into products and the freedom to interact in a way that blends different approaches to shopping. They want online shopping that mirrors their offline shopping experiences. They want a faster, easier shopping experience; one that gives them the opportunity to make a fully informed decision.
Online shopping was not designed in a way that valued and enabled good product discovery. E-commerce sites need to expand the dialog, provide more visibility into product selection and guide shoppers closer to a making purchases -- the common goal for both shopper and seller. The online businesses that are good at this are those whose sites allow shoppers to do more than search, find and buy. They are the sites built upon a foundation of product discovery.
Successful e-commerce sites need to serve customers who know what they want and are determined to find and buy it. Those same sites also must serve those who need their hands held as they travel through Web sites and require as much input and information as you can provide.