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Online retailers should take ownership of the shopping experience

Mar 24, 2021


  • Shopping is all about allowing yourself to be inspired when you're not looking for a specific product to buy. 
  • Ask yourself, how do you make shoppers want to visit your online store?
  • Present themes not categories on your home page

Going shopping is something we all can relate to. We've all given the same reply over and over again when going shopping. We'll say, "No thanks, I'm just looking", when entering a store. But where would you go to shop for the sake of shopping online? Shopping in this context is the act of allowing yourself to be inspired. You are not looking for a specific product to buy. 

Physical stores take great pride in presenting a shopping experience that inspires. You're greeted by a person, music plays to put you in a mood, products are presented in context. But it seems merchandizing and focusing on the consumer experience is lost online. It is all about filters, search and categories.

Make shoppers want to visit your online store for inspiration

It shouldn't come as a surprise for anyone that your potential customers are spending hours each day on their mobile phone. With that in mind, it's surprising so few retailers create an experience online that makes potential customers want to visit their store. Of course some are better than others, but there are a lot of indicators and surveys showing that the act of shopping happens away from the retailer's online store.

In 2018 social media got a bigger share of the cake when it comes to inspiring shoppers to take action. A survey conducted by PWC revealed that 37% regularly use social networks to find inspiration for a purchase. While 34% regularly use individual retailer websites.

The logical marketing mindset when considering these statistics, is to start the conversation focusing on, "we need to be where our audience is". But that's only looking at it from one perspective. An even more interesting place to start this conversation is, "why are they not visiting our online store for inspiration?" 

We all know Amazon. It's the ideal place to shop when you know exactly what you want. We trust we'll get a good deal and fast, reliable delivery at Amazon. It's the ideal place to shop when you know exactly what you want. But, when it comes to inspiring its shoppers to browse through products, Amazon just doesn't cut it.

The below image is what you see above the fold when clicking a link in the homepage stating "Find your ideal TV". How, one might add, will you ever assist me by showing me this?

If you sell TVs, don't settle for a different version of Amazon, where all that has changed is a color scheme adjustment to match your brand. Make sure you stand out and become the source of inspiration that actually makes visitors want to explore your selection of TVs. 

Inspiration is not just a fluffy buzzword that just translates into better visuals. It's a mindset that should be as natural to address in a retail team meeting as how do we optimize our paid tactics. The lack of tangible value perceived when talking about inspiration often kills projects before they can take off.

But focusing on improving how you make shoppers want to visit your store is what's going to be a main factor if you want to thrive in a world that involves Amazon.

Where to start?

To get started, adjust your homepage to cater to shoppers and not the ones that know what they want.

Knowledge about your potential customers is key, and in this case it holds more truth than ever. Because if you don't know what triggers them to want to visit your store, you can't create a better experience for them.

When a visitor lands on your homepage it's a good sign they're visiting your page to get inspired. So instead of overwhelming visitors with a ton of different choices, use your knowledge about your visitors to make sure they want to enter your online store to shop. Greet them as you would in the physical world. Let them know you are here to help. Just adding a bot message stating this won't cut it. 

If you're able to translate your insights about your customers into journeys that start from the homepage, you'll successfully increase your chances of getting more shoppers to explore your products. And chances are you'll be recommended to others because you were able to connect on a deeper level than just being able to have the product they needed in stock at a cost they were willing to spend.

Present themes not categories on your homepage. Themes enables your visitors to start their shopping journey on a higher level than category, product or brand. By presenting different themes that are created inline with your audience insights, you have a much better chance to get people to shop on your online store. 

The reasoning behind this relates to the paradox of choice. When there's too many decisions to make, shoppers can become paralyzed. To the point where no decision seems like the safest option. If a decision requires too much brain power, chances are they'll bounce. 

Retailers need to understand that just because the shopping is done online, it doesn't mean the need to be inspired is not still there. So make sure you ask yourself and your team the question "how do we make sure people want to visit our online store to shop"?

Jesper Wilhelmsen

Jesper Wilhelmsen