Walking a mile in the digital shopper’s shoes
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, RSR Research’s weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers, presented here for discussion.
The hard part with digital is that there are a lot of guessing games around how consumers shop. With mobile in particular, there are a lot questions around what consumers are really trying to accomplish — they may not be using mobile to shop in the same way they use a desktop site.
Either way, if you guess wrong, it’s hard to really tell — it’s not like a store where you can see what’s not working. You only see what’s wrong in digital when sales and traffic tank. And even then, after you trace the issue back to a certain page or link or graphic, you may not understand why the issue exists.
Two themes emphasized quite a bit at Internet Retailer’s Digital Design Conference appear valuable whether you are looking just at digital, or looking at the shopping experience holistically.
Theme 1: How they want to buy, not how you want to sell
When thinking about promotions or featured images or product recommendations, it’s less about what you want to promote and more about what customers want to buy, and how they want to buy them.
Scott Kincaid of Usability Sciences showed video of a man looking for handguns at a sporting goods retailer’s website. Right under the product description — prime real estate — was a "popular products" section showing a women’s swimsuit, children’s flip flops, boy’s batting helmet, and a fly fishing rod. While perhaps popular across the website, they had nothing to do with the category being shopped, missing related products like holsters or ammunition or clips. The prime real estate was not only wasted space, it demonstrated to the shopper that the retailer wasn’t interested in helping him make his purchase.
Theme 2: Walk a mile in their shoes
Relatedly, you can be committed to Theme 1 without ever actually walking a mile in your customers’ shoes. One head of digital I know ambushes customers in stores and gives them gift cards to entice them to buy something from their mobile phone. Employees can also be used as guinea pigs to test out the mobile shopping processes and provide feedback.
Things that you think are obvious will rapidly be exposed as a fantasy. During one session at IRDD, we watched a consumer look at absolutely every other piece of content on a page, trying to find the "Locate in Store" button, except for right at the button at the center of the page.
But guess what? It doesn’t matter if it’s obvious to you. It only matters if your customers can find it, and know how to use it
How should retailers be rethinking the path to purchase with digital and mobile, in particular? What obvious and less obvious customer needs does mobile shopping need to address?