Designing for eCommerce

Posted on Mar 11, 2010 in Blog | Comments Off

Designing for eCommerce

Conversion, return on investment, loyalty, referrals; all of these site metrics are incredibly important to any successful website, and a site that sells product(s) is no exception. In a world (wide web) that’s muddled and overrun with sub-par, poorly designed shopping websites, it’s hard to break away from the mold.

The key is to be informed — not only about designing a better shopping experience, but making that shopping experience more informative and enjoyable for the most important person, a potential customer! In my experience, I’ve noticed five main types of online shoppers. They’re much like normal brick & mortar shoppers, too. So, how do you make the best experience possible for these five types of people?

Bargain Hunter

Bargains Galore

The bargain hunter is just like shoppers you’d see in a supermarket. The one’s who hold up all the lines with their unorganized coupon binder, sets of buy five, get one free items and their rebate stuffed receipts. The same goes for web buyers. They regularly search sites like Retailmenot and Cheap Stingy Bargains looking for free swag or coupon codes to use.

How to help a Bargain Hunter

The simplest way to accommodate the bargain hunter is to enable coupon/promo codes during checkout. Most recent shopping cart software will ship with this functionality (or at the very least, have plug-ins developed that will allow it). You can promote these codes by submitting them to sites, sending out emails with the code and giving a code in an email after a purchase has been made — this will also encourage them to come back.

Window Shopper

I'll take all of them

Have you ever been walking down the street and saw something you just couldn’t live without (then you saw the price)? That, in a nutshell, is the window shopper. Whether they are shopping for a new LCD TV, dress, car or jewelry, this shopper can sometimes get talked into buying something over the course of a few visits.

How to help a Window Shopper

A great way to sell to the window shopper is to describe your products as detailed and precise as you can. List any benefits, positive uses and other things that might be useful to know. That way, the consumer can’t turn down a product that can help them in so many different ways.

Review-Centric Shopper

Lots of choices

Popular sites like Amazon and Newegg use a star rating system that allows customers to rate a product after purchasing. Some people say to take these reviews with a grain of salt, because they might not have any experience outside of the product they are reviewing. Personally, I like reading these reviews because it gives me a wide range of previous buyers that have used the product I might buy.

How to help a Review-Centric Shopper

Obviously, the best way to make your site usable to the review centric shopper is to add a rating and/or commenting system on your products. Along with the coupon codes, many shopping carts will come with the functionality or at least have some plugins that can achieve this addition.

The Big Spender

Serious Spending Power

Ah, the big spender. They buy the biggest, most expensive products every time they go out. They will walk by an area of a store and just throw things in their cart without ever thinking twice. They shop at the most expensive department stores and buy only name brands.

How to sell to a Big Spender

My opinion on the big spender? They are great for your site stats and revenue! On every product detail page, try adding a block of “Related Products” or “Add on Accessories” with a link to add it to their cart right then. The temptation to buy more products is there and the big spender just might take the bait.

The Comparison Shopper

These brands are a little off

In my shopping experiences (online and off), there are usually always two types of products; the name brand & the off brand, with the off brand typically cheaper. When looking at these, the price is usually the deciding factor in which one someone purchases. But what if you are selling the name brand? Can you rely on the name alone to sell, if the off-brand is the same product, just repackaged? In the world’s current economic state, I’m beginning to think a name might not be enough anymore.

How does all this relate to online sales, you might ask? Well, online shoppers are just like offline — they want a solid product at the cheapest price without sacrificing quality. So, you need to prove to them that your product is worth their investment and is a better choice than your competitor’s product.

How to sell to a Comparison Shopper

Firstly, add a rating and review section on each product detail page. Seeing past customer feedback can change someone’s opinion rather quickly. Secondly, try adding an area for testimonials that you can administer. This way, if you get some astounding review from some well known sources, your credibility will be raised instantaneously. You can always style the testimonials to make them stand out as to catch user’s attention, too.

Go Forth and Sell

There you have it. The five main types of online shoppers and some tips to sell to each of them. With a bit of research, creating a user-based shopping experience isn’t very far out of your reach. As a result of your work, you will notice more customer interaction (ratings & reviews), more sales (due to trust from testimonials), and return customers (promo codes and referral leads). Why not take some time and spruce up your shopping experience? Your customers, and your wallet, will thank you!

Do you have any other personalities to add to this list? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

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