Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to designing a retail website, according to Lauren Freedman, president of research and consulting for E-Tailing Group Inc. To create a compelling site that draws shoppers in and lures them to buy, web merchants must choose their content carefully, Freedman said, during the recent Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Boston.
Merchants should know their brands and how to best bring them to market via the content on their retail sites, she said, and offered two winning, but very different examples. Apparel retailer, Wet Seal, which targets young women and teens, uses snazzy copy, contests and events on its ecommerce site. By contrast, Baby Universe, which caters to mothers, many of whom are on a tight budget, offers a prominent free shipping promotion, smack in the center of its home page.
Freedman also urged online retailers to, "embrace the human factor." People miss chatting with store associates or even fellow shoppers when they shop online. Retail websites can help fill that void by posting profiles of employees, such as customer service staff, to help consumers establish a human connection with the company and brand. She also suggested they play up any charitable endeavors to help build a sense of trust with customers. She urged an, "insider's," strategy, in which content helps consumers go behind the brand and get the inside scoop. This could take the form of a blog, or a tips, or how to section.
Yet no matter how connected consumers feel to a retailer or how much advice and information a retailer offers, if shoppers can't find what they are looking for, they won't buy, she concluded, which makes organizing content a top priority. Guided navigation is a good way to help consumers find what they want fast, she said. The feature allows consumers to drill down by attributes such as color, price range and brand and style, to find exactly what they are seeking, rather than requiring them to enter a term into a search box. Many times, consumers don't know exactly what they want, do not know the brand name for a product, or have just a rough idea of what they are looking for. Guided navigation can help in those instances.
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