October 22, 2011
Here’s how I think about it. In a store, a customer walks in, scans the floor and either spots something she’s interested in or looking for, or loses interest and walks out. Online, it’s the same thing- except there’s no friendly associate at the door to ask if she can help. Online, you have just a few seconds to show a customer you have what she wants, or needs- or she’ll be off to Google before you can say, “live chat”.
Online it’s all about choices. We need to provide pathways for different kinds of shoppers: most notably, the navigator, the searcher, and the browser. And these are not necessarily different people. They are moments in time, based on mood, based on need- based on urgency, or any number of other factors. The point is, she needs options. There are 3 key ways to show your customer you get it.
- Navigation: keep it clear, simple, and intuitive. Use nomenclature and sequencing that makes sense to the customer (avoid merchant-talk, and put things where they make sense- not in the order in which you’d like to sell them).
- Search: make it prominent and productive. Make sure synonyms and misspellings work. Make sure she can shop by size. Study the logs of frequent searches, so you can continually improve your results sets.
- Content: inspire her. Give her ideas. Share a point of view. Show her something she didn’t know you had. Or that she wanted. But for the browsing shopper, her wallet is out. All you need to do is to give her a reason to buy.
A note on gender: I use “her” for convenience rather than the annoying he/she or the persistent third person… sorry if I’ve offended any guys out there.