Online shopping is one of my favourite things in the world; I don’t need to get dressed, fight traffic, look for parking, deal with snooty sales assistants or try clothes on inside an over-mirrored cubicle with a gappy curtain! I can sit comfortably at my desk, in my slippers, browsing away to my heart’s content. Whether it’s the weekly food shop, worming tablets for the dogs or a new print for the kitchen, I do it all online and wouldn’t have it any other way.
So with all the competition out there in the online shopping stratosphere, how do you attract buyers to enter your virtual shop window? And once there, how do you tempt them to browse your wares and part with their hard earned cash? Well I’ve come up with five ways that retailers and their designers can tick my online boxes and keep my credit card company happy…
1. Email Newsletters
When I haven’t even thought about the fact that I need, absolutely need, a birdhouse to store my front door key in, an email newsletter will pop up in my inbox and let me know just how vital it is to my ongoing existence. I may be in the middle of a shedload of work, but it’s so easy to click on that email that I’m in the store in minutes and lost in it for a good while longer!
Some of the most irresistible and well put together newsletters I receive are from Hush, Graham and Green, and Not on the High Street. I’m particularly vulnerable to these tempting teasers around the festive season…
2. Free Shipping
Shipping charges can be a serious impediment to completing a purchase. I may spend days deciding on what I am going to buy, go through the convoluted process of signing up, only to find the shipping charges are extortionate. I won’t dally at this point, the deal goes down the drain, I ditch my basket and I’m off. Not because I’m cheap (well, not that cheap!) but because I know from experience what is fair in the world of online shipping costs. Online shoppers are savvy, so I say offer them the best prices you can because if you don’t someone else will. I’m a loyal person by nature but if my favourite shop’s competitor offered me free shipping, I’d be off in a minute. Free shipping? The holy grail of online shopping. If you’re a retailer, it’s a must.
Neals Yard Remedies always earns my favours when they send me an email announcing free shipping for a limited period. And Debenhams and ASOS take free shipping to the next level by offering free returns as well. Really, there’s no better turn on.
3. Inviting design
Your online store reveals so much about you, in the same way that a physical shop window does. Make it appealing enough and I won’t just stop outside to indulge in a little window shopping, I’ll actually pop in and take a look around, credit card at the ready. Like your site enough and I’ll bookmark you, with a promise to return again. Good design is all about creating an element of desire – whether it’s classic and clean, or quirky and character filled, the design of a site should excite and entice. Show your products off with clever design and modern photography and make shopping in your store a no-brainer. If you intrigue me, I will come.
Anthropologie and Caravan have quirky, ecclectic design vibes, while Father Rabbit’s no-frills elegance makes me simply covet everything in their store!
4. Intuitive navigation
Good design, however, will only take me so far. If it’s not backed up by well thought out, intuitive navigation, then I’m starting to get cold feet. Travelling around a website should be a painless experience, the only effort required being to decide whether to choose the red or brown bag? I like my menus, search facilities, contact details etc, in predictable places. Bad navigation is like driving down a road and finding the traffic lights on top of the buildings! Navigation that is intuitive allows me to focus on hunting through your products, not huffing and puffing as I search desperately for how to return to the desk lamp I was drooling over but seem unable to locate again. Add to that the benefit of great product shots, well sized, with different angles, product details and dimensions, and why not throw in a video? The more I can see of a product, the more confident I will feel about your website, the more likely I’ll be to buy.
Some of my heroes of clean and clear navigation are Aubin & Wills, Toast and Zara. There’s nothing worse than buying clothes online when you’re confronted with a single thumbnail from which to make a large purchasing decision. Not gonna happen.
6. The fun stuff
I’m up for bargain any day of the week and naturally you’re more likely to entice me into your online store if you dangle a discount carrot in front of my nose. But not just discounts tempt me… REN Skincare have a great way of ensuring I return by including free good-sized samples of their products with each purchase. Nice. Naturisimo regularly push one of their brands by offering a free product on any purchase from that brand’s line. A great way to make me buy something I may not have considered, and don’t especially need! And then of course there is the competition. Companies are really pushing their Facebook presence these days, and Facebook is proving to be a quick and cheerful way to entice a ‘like’ in the promise that you may win something. Competitions never used to appeal to me until I whimsically entered one on Love Lula and won a terrific Jo Wood Organics gift set. I’ve been a Love Lula and Jo Wood fan ever since, so it definitely worked!
Posted by Amy
So in summary, if you want to create the perfect online shopping experience for your customer, provide a beautiful, easy to navigate site. Showcase your products with good imagery, tempt and tease with discounts and freebies, and provide unobstrusive shipping costs. Give them what they want and they will come back.